•   
  •   

Tech & Science NASA discovers unique orbit to Neptune's moons

17:41  19 november  2019
17:41  19 november  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

Saturn is the solar system's 'moon king,' with 20 more spotted

  Saturn is the solar system's 'moon king,' with 20 more spotted Saturn is the solar system's 'moon king,' with 20 more spottedSaturn is now being recognised as the "moon king" of our solar system, with astronomers spotting 20 more of them orbiting the giant ringed planet, bringing its total count to 82 - three more than Jupiter.

Researchers at NASA have discovered that a unique orbiting pattern by Neptune ' s two innermost moons allows them never to collide, dubbing it a "dance of avoidance". The moons ' unique orbit "has never been seen before" according to Marina Brozovic, the lead author of a new paper.

Never believe what NASA tells you.

NASA has discovered something weird about two of Neptune's moons © Getty NASA has discovered something weird about two of Neptune's moons

Researchers at NASA have discovered that a unique orbiting pattern by Neptune's two innermost moons allows them never to collide, dubbing it a "dance of avoidance".

The moons' unique orbit "has never been seen before" according to Marina Brozovic, the lead author of a new paper.

"There are many different types of 'dances' that planets, moons and asteroids can follow, but this one has never been seen before," added Dr Brozovic.

Diagram shows Neptune's moons. Pic: NASA/ESA and A Feild © Press Release Diagram shows Neptune's moons. Pic: NASA/ESA and A Feild

Neptune has 14 confirmed moons, with the most recent being discovered in 2013 and then ultimately named Hippocamp this year.

There's Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune

  There's Something Strange Going On Inside Neptune Are planetary burps to blame?

Neptune has 14 confirmed moons . Neso, the farthest-flung of them, orbits in a wildly elliptical loop Brozovic and her colleagues discovered the unusual orbital pattern using analysis of observations by NASA 's Hubble Space Telescope. More information about Neptune ' s moons can be found here

NASA news: Neptune boasts at least 14 moons (Image: Getty). This pattern repeats every time Naiad gains four laps on Thalassa. And NASA has revealed how although the dance may appear odd, it keeps the orbits stable. Marina Brozović, an expert in solar system dynamics at NASA , said: “We

The most distant is Neso, which orbits the ice giant in an enormous loop which takes it 27 years to complete.

The two innermost moons, Naiad and Thalassa, are much smaller, and oblate rather than spheroid. They orbit the planet every seven and seven-and-a-half hours respectively.

Naiad and Thalassa are Neptune's innermost moons © Press Release Naiad and Thalassa are Neptune's innermost moons

They are very close to each other, orbiting only about 1,150 miles (1,850km) apart - about the distance between the UK and Finland.

But despite that being the average distance of their orbits, they never actually get that close to each other.

This is due to a tilt in Naiad's orbit which is perfectly synchronised with Thalassa's orbit, meaning the moon appears to wobble around its fellow moon.

"An observer sitting on Thalassa would see Naiad in an orbit that varies wildly in a zigzag pattern, passing by twice from above and then twice from below," said NASA.

"We refer to this repeating pattern as a resonance," explained Dr Brozovic.

"We are always excited to find these co-dependencies between moons," said Dr Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, and a co-author of the new paper.

"Naiad and Thalassa have probably been locked together in this configuration for a very long time, because it makes their orbits more stable.

"They maintain the peace by never getting too close."

A 17-year-old NASA intern just discovered a brand new planet .
I don't know about you, but when I was 17 years old, I wasn't doing very much planet-hunting. Wolf Cukier of Scarsdale High School is different. What’s even more incredible is that this new world is unlike any that astronomers have ever seen. It’s orbiting not one, but two stars at the same time.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 0
This is interesting!