tech2 News Staff Nov 18, 2019 17:09:23 IST
The eighth planet in the solar system, Neptune, has 14 moons and they all rotate around the planet at their own pace. Recently, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered that two of the ice giant's moons – Naiad and Thalassa – are locked in a & # 39; elusive dance & # 39 ;.
These two Neptunian satellites are quite close to each other ̵
Naiad moves much faster than Thalassa and dances around the other moon in an attempt to avoid an opposite collision. They do not collide with each other, since Naiad's orbit is inclined at about 5 degrees. Naiad takes seven hours to complete a rotation around Neptune while Thalassa completes it in seven and a half hours.
If you were to live at Thalassa you would see Naiad go up and down in a zigzag pattern and pass twice from the top and then twice from below. While scientists do not know how the two moons came to perfect this routine, they do have some working theories.
The first possibility is that an original satellite system was disturbed when Neptune captured its giant moon Triton, which led to the inner moons and rings formed from the remaining debris. [Neptunes has a total of six rings.]
"We suspect that Naiad was kicked into its leaning path by a previous interaction with one of Neptune's other inner moons," said Marina Brozović, an expert on solar system dynamics at JPL in a press release . "Only later, after the track was tilted, was Naiad able to settle into this unusual resonance with Thalassa."
"Naiad and Thalassa have probably been locked in this configuration for a very long time because it makes their orbits more stable. They maintain peace by never getting too close," said Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute and a co-author of the new newspaper in a press release .
Data collected between 1981 and 2016 from NASA's Hubble Telescope and Voyager 2 (the only spacecraft that visited Neptune's first hand on its way out of the solar system) and other space telescopes on Earth helped in the discovery of this unusual orbital pattern. The study also said that the moons largely consist of water ice.
The study and its results were published in the journal Icarus .
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