Home / Science / The new moon discovered circulating Neptune's headlights the solar system's violent past

The new moon discovered circulating Neptune's headlights the solar system's violent past



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Vid David Freeman

Say hello to Hippocamp, a heavenly pipsqueak that makes great waves at the edge of our solar system. Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the existence of this little moon in orbit around Neptune.

With a diameter of just 20 miles, the newly-defined moon ̵

1; named after a mythical half-horse, half-fish creature – is the smallest moon discovered so far in orbit around the outer planet. NASA says it's about 100 million times weaker than the weakest star visible to the naked eye.

Hippocamp was first seen in images taken by Hubble in 2013. But its presence – located near a much larger moon called Proteus a mystery: Why hadn't Hippocamp been merged with or deposited by Proteus, an irregularly shaped 260-mile-long is about 1000 times more massive?

Some are called S / 2004 N1, which Hippocamp was originally known, "the moon that should not be there."

But after several years of slitting – including a new look at images of the Neptune system that Hubble and NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft took, astronomers led by Mark Showalter from the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, decided that Hippocamp is a piece of Proteus who had been cut off from the larger moon when a comet struck it billions of years ago.


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