Moons have the coolest names, do not they? Proteus, Titan, and Callisto. Phobos, Deimos, and Sleeping sickness. However not Io. That’s a foolish name for a moon. There’s just 2 methods to pronounce it and we still get it incorrect. Anyhow, now we have another cool one: Hippocamp!

Okay, possibly the brand-new name isn’t that cool. It seems like a summertime camp for obese artiodactyls. However whatever. It’s not every day our Planetary system gets a brand-new moon.

Hippocamp is small, just 34 km (20 miles) throughout. It’s just about 1/1000 th the mass of Proteus, its massive neighbour. So it is among Neptune’s tiniest moons

A group of astronomers have actually determined where this small Neptunian moon originated from. The group comes from NASA’s Ames Proving ground, from the SETI Institute, and from the University of California, and they found the moon in archival information from the Hubble Area Telescope. They believe it’s the direct outcome of an accident in between another, bigger moon, and a comet.

When originally discovered, Hippocamp was called S/2004 N 1. It was discovered in 2013 when Mark Showalter analyzed over 150 archival Neptune photographs taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009. Image Credit: By NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute) -, Public Domain,
When initially found, Hippocamp was called S/2004 N 1. It was found in 2013 when Mark Showalter evaluated over 150 archival Neptune pictures taken by Hubble from 2004 to2009 Image Credit: By NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)– image/a/, Public Domain,

The most fascinating aspect of this newly-discovered moon is not its name, however its origin. It appears to have actually broken off the much bigger Neptunian moon Proteus And all of it might have been the outcome of a little drama including a comet and an accident.

Hippocamp’s origin story begins a very long time back. Astronomers call it the ‘moon that should not exist,’ which’s a strong mean the weaves that resulted in its presence. It’s so little therefore near to Proteus that Proteus need to have devoured it or swept it aside. However that hasn’t taken place.

” The very first thing we recognized was that you would not anticipate to discover such a small moon right beside Neptune’s greatest inner moon,” stated Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, lead author of the paper laying out Hippocamp’s origins.

Hippocamp’s story begins in the early days of the Planetary system, when the gas giants coalesced out of the disk of product around the Sun. There’s a great deal of information included, however basically after the gas giants formed, they moved through the Planetary system. They weren’t constantly in the positions we see them in now.

Neptune's largest moon Triton photographed on August 25, 1989 by Voyager 2. It's a captured Kuiper Belt Object, and its capture started a chain of events that led to Hippocamp, the little moon that shouldn't be there. Credit: NASA
Neptune’s biggest moon Triton photographed on August 25, 1989 by Voyager 2. It’s a recorded Kuiper Belt Things, and its capture began a chain of occasions that resulted in Hippocamp, the little moon that should not exist. Credit: NASA

These migrations altered the gravitational scenario in the Planetary system, and eventually, it appears like Neptune caught its moon Triton from the Kuiper Belt. So Triton isn’t a moon that was accreted from rocky product left over from the inner Planetary system. It’s a recorded Kuiper Belt Things. Other moons, like Saturn’s Phoebe, might likewise be caught Kuiper Belt Objects.

Triton is so big that its gravity would have destroyed Neptune’s initial system of moons. Then when Triton calmed down into an orbit, moons like Proteus coalesced out of the particles. So Proteus resembles a second-generation moon. And Proteus generated Hippocamp.

Proteus wasn’t found till 1989, when Voyager 2 gone by Neptune and found it. It took photos of Proteus and discovered a huge effect crater on the surface area of the moon. Which’s where the brand-new small moon Hippocamp initially appears in our story.

” In 1989, we believed the crater was completion of the story,” stated Showalter.

A Voyager2 image of Proteus. It's not a great image, because Voyager2's cameras were designed for more brightly-lit objects, but a large crater is visible on the upper right, partly in shadow. Image Credit: NASA/Voyager2.
A Voyager2 picture of Proteus. It’s not a fantastic image, due to the fact that Voyager2’s cams were created for more brightly-lit things, however a big crater shows up on the upper right, partially in shadow. Image Credit: NASA/Voyager2.

Hippocamp wasn’t found till 2013, when Hubble’s eager eye identified it. “With Hubble, now we understand that a little piece of Proteus got left and we see it today as Hippocamp,” stated Showalter. The orbits of the 2 moons are now 7,500 miles (about 12,070 kilometers) apart.

The group of astronomers behind the brand-new paper discussing Hippocamp’s origin state that a very long time back, a comet hit the moon Proteus. The crash produced the huge effect crater, and Hippocamp, the little moon that should not exist. So from Triton being caught, to the damage then production of Proteus, to the effect that produced Hippocamp, the small moon resembles a third-generation moon.

” Based upon quotes of comet populations, we understand that other moons in the external planetary system have actually been struck by comets, smashed apart, and re-accreted numerous times,” kept in mind Jack Lissauer of NASA’s Ames Proving ground in California’s Silicon Valley, a coauthor on the brand-new research study. “This set of satellites offers a significant illustration that moons are in some cases disintegrated by comets.”

This diagram reveals the orbits of numerous moons situated near to the world Neptune. All of them were found in 1989 by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, with the exception of Hippocamp (S/2004 N 1), which was found in archival Hubble Area Telescope images drawn from 2004 to2009 The moons all follow prograde orbits and are nestled amongst Neptune’s rings (disappointed). The external moon Triton was found in 1846– the very same year the world itself was found. Triton’s orbit is retrograde, recommending it is a recorded Kuiper Belt things and for that reason a far-off cousin of Pluto. The inner moons might have formed after Triton’s capture numerous billion years back. Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Hippocamp’s origin story has plenty of weaves, of comet crashes, world migrations, and caught Kuiper Belt Objects. For an item with such an interesting history, it has a quite lame name. However there’s a factor for it.

By arrangement, Neptune’s moons are all called after Greek and Roman water gods, or beings and small divine beings related to water gods. That makes good sense, due to the fact that Neptune was God of the Sea. However it looks like we’re beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel with Hippocamp.

Perhaps we should simply provide newly-discovered moons much better names, and after that begin calling any brand-new gods after them, to turn the tables on the entire thing?

However that’ll never ever take place; we’re stuck to Hippocamp, the moon that should not exist.

( And I was simply joking about Sleeping sickness.)