A new moon in Neptune's orbit
– a research team has discovered on recordings of the Hubble Space Telescope. Thus, the planet now has a total of 15 known satellites orbiting it. The discovery was made by astronomers around Mark Showalter of the Seti Institute in California – the acronym stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, So the search for extraterrestrial life forms.
The team, which also includes researchers from the University of Berkeley and researchers from the US Space Agency Nasa, has details of the discovery in the current issue of the magazine Nature released (Showalter
et al., 2019).
Ever since Pluto lost planetary status (see box), Neptune is now considered the outermost planet of our solar system, which accordingly has only eight planets – including the Earth. Neptune's diameter, at 50,000 kilometers, is almost four times that of our home planet. He is the fourth largest planet behind Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The ice giant is surrounded by a special ring structure. Several rings of solid particles, such as dust grains, revolve around it. So far, 14 moons were known to orbit the planet at different distances. Some are more than ten million kilometers from the surface.
Six of the moons that move near Neptune were first sighted by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989, when it happened on a space mission. According to researchers, the satellites were formed by comet impacts and correspondingly younger than the gas giant itself.
Hippocamp, the smallest Neptunmond
On recordings of the Hubble Space Telescope, which spies out planets and other celestial bodies since 1990, Showalter and his team discovered another moon near the planet. It had remained hidden during the flight of Voyager 2 in the late 1980s.
Special image processing techniques made it possible for the researchers
and researchers, focusing on the faster moons on the inner rings of the
Neptune's focus. The pictures, which exposed the object with the official name S / 2004, are from the years 2004 to 2005. On further pictures from 2009 and 2016 the existence of the 15th Neptune's Moon could be confirmed.
He was named after the marine Hippocampus of the Greek
Mythology. With an average diameter of around 34
Kilometers, the new addition is the smallest known Neptunmond. To the
Comparison: The largest, Triton, has a diameter of about 2,700 kilometers.
Hippocamp itself orbits the much larger Moon Proteus. "We assume that after a comet impact on Proteus, it has formed from the dissolved fragments," explain the researchers in their study Nature-Publication. The new discovery also supports the assumption that external influences must have shaped the development of the inner Neptune moons. In their work, the astronomers also examined other satellites of Neptune in more detail. What they found testifies to a moving lunar origin history within 100,000 kilometers of the eighth planet of our solar system.
Read more about astronomy and space travel here.