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What if our Moon had its own moon?

24 Jan 2019, 10:50 UTC
What if our Moon had its own moon?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Our Moon is one of few moons in the Solar System to theoretically capable of hosting its own submoon. Image credit: NASA
This simple question – asked by the four-year old son of Carnegie’s (Institute for Science, Washington D.C., United States) Juna Kollmeier – started it all. Not long after this initial bedtime query, Kollmeier was coordinating a program at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) in California, United States, on the Milky Way while her one-time college classmate Sean Raymond of Université de Bordeaux, France, was attending a parallel KITP program on the dynamics of Earth-like planets. After discussing this very simple question at a seminar, the two joined forces to solve it. Their findings are the basis of a paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The duo kicked off an internet firestorm late last year when they posted a draft of their article examining the possibility of moons that orbit other moons on a preprint server for physics and astronomy manuscripts.
The online conversation obsessed over the best term to describe such phenomena with options like moonmoons and mini-moons being thrown into the mix. But nomenclature was not the point of Kollmeier and ...

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