Scientists have long believed that, without our moon, the tilt of the Earth would shift greatly over time, from zero degrees, where the Sun remains over the equator, to 85 degrees, where the Sun shines almost directly above one of the poles.A planet's stability has an effect on the development of life.
A planet see-sawing back and forth on its axis as it orbits the sun would experience wide fluctuations in climate, which then could potentially affect the evolution of complex life.
However, new simulations show that, even without a moon, the tilt of Earth's axis — known as its obliquity — would vary only about 10 degrees.
The influence of other planets in the solar system could have kept a moonless Earth stable. [10 Coolest New Moon Discoveries]
The stabilizing effect that our large moon has on Earth's rotation therefore may not be as crucial for life as previously believed, according to a paper by Jason Barnes of the University of Idaho and colleagues which was presented at a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
Nola Taylor Redd