Sunday , August 7 2022

Neptune tiny moon seen by Hubble may have broken a larger moon


Serpenters call him "the moon that should not be there."

After several years of analysis, a team of planetary scientists using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope has finally expired an explanation of a mysterious moon around Neptune discovered with Hubble in 2013.

The small moon, known as Hippocamp, is unusual near a much more Neptuneous moon called Proteus. As a rule, moon as Proteus should have been swept seriously or swallowed the smaller moon while clearing its orbit path.

So why does the small moon exist? Hippocamp is similar to a large moon scratch piece that has resulted in a collision with billions of bumps of years ago. The diminutive moon, only 20 miles (about 34km) across, is 1 / 1000th of Proteus mass (260 miles [about 418 kilometers] across).

"The first thing we realized was that you would not expect to find such a small moon as close to the largest Neptune inner moon," said Mark Showalter of the SETI Foundation in Mountain View, California. "In the far past, given the slow migration outside the big moon, Proteus was once Hippocamp now."

This scenario is supported by Voyager 2 images of 1989 showing a large impact crater on Proteus, almost large enough to break the moon. "In 1989, we thought the crater was the end of the story," said Showalter. "With Hubble, now we know that a small piece of Proteus has left behind and we see today as a Hippocamp." Both orbit are now 7,500 miles (approximately 12,070km) separately.

The Neptune satellite system has a violent and dramatic history. More millions of years ago, Neptune the Triton was a great moon from the Kuiper Belt, a large part of frozen and rocky objects beyond the Neptune orbit. Triton gravity would obstruct the original Neptune satellite system. Triton settled in a circular orbit and the debris of Neptunian pictures had been rebuilt into a second generation of natural satellites. However, the bombing comedy continued to throw things, leading to the birth of Hippocamp, which could be considered a third generation satellite.

"Based on comet populations estimates, we know that other utilities in the external solar system have been hit by comets, separately broken and reused several times," said Jack Lissauer from NASA's Ames Research Center in California Silicon Valley, co-ordinator of the new research. "The pair of satellites gives a dramatic picture that lakes will sometimes be cut apart by comedy."

Hippocamp is half a half-fish fish of Greek mythology. The scientific name for the seahorse is Hippocampus, also the name of an important part of the human brain. The rules of the International Astronomical Union require Neptune plots to be named after the Greek and Roman myth of the underground world.


The team of astronomers in this study include M. Showalter (SETI Foundation, Mountain View, California), I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley, California), J. Lissauer (NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley , California), and R. French (SETI Institute, Mountain View, California).

The paper will appear in the February 21 issue of the science journal Nature.

Thelescope Space Hubble is a project of international co-operation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Flight Center at Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Science Telescope Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, hosts the Hubble scientific operations. STScI for NASA is operated by the Universities Association for Astronomy Research in Washington, D.C.

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