Monday, July 18, 2022

Earth has Extra ‘moons’

2:34 PM | ,

Earth has Extra ‘moons’

Contrary to popular belief, Earth isn't accompanied by just one moon, but three. This topic has triggered intense debates for over five decades. As per a recent report by National Geographic, Hungarian astronomers and physicists have gathered sufficient evidence to verify that our moon is not alone; there are two additional 'moons' made entirely of dust.

This team of researchers authenticated their existence by capturing images of these cosmic entities situated approximately 250,000 miles away - a distance comparable to our recognized moon. Their findings were unveiled in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Intriguing Facts about the Newly Uncovered Dust Moons

The presence of these dust 'moons', also known as Kordylewski clouds, had been assumed by scientists for a long time. However, the first actual sighting of these clouds can be traced back to 1961 by the Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski, inspiring their name.

The recent discoveries point out that each Kordylewski cloud spans about 15 by 10 degrees wide, equivalent to 30 by 20 lunar disks in the night sky. They envelop a space almost nine times Earth's width, translating to approximately 65,000 by 45,000 miles in actual size.

The dust 'moons', despite their enormity, comprise minuscule dust particles, each measuring around one micrometer across. These particles emit a faint glow when hit by sunlight, similar to the zodiacal light derived from dust spread between planetary orbits. Given their extremely dim light, locating these satellite dust clouds amidst starlight, sky glow, galactic light, and zodiacal light proves challenging, despite their proximity to Earth.

The recent study confirming the presence of these two dust 'moons' utilized specialized polarizing filters on cameras to detect scattered light reflected off the individual dust particles in the clouds.

The Ever-Changing Kordylewski Clouds

The Kordylewski clouds are dynamic in nature. While their orbit may be stable, possibly existing for millions of years, their composition - the dust particles - is continually changing. Some particles escape due to gravitational pulls from Earth or the moon, while others originate from interplanetary spaces and meteor showers.

The Role of Lagrange Points in Discovering the Extra 'Moons

The idea of Earth possessing multiple moons has intrigued astronomers for years. It was hypothesized that if such moons existed, they would be found at stable points in Earth’s orbit.

Lagrange points are gravitational sweet spots in a planetary orbit where gravity from two opposing celestial bodies is balanced by the centripetal force of their orbits. Therefore, an object at a Lagrange point maintains a constant distance from both the moon and Earth.

In the 1950s, Kordylewski explored two Lagrange points - L4 and L5 - where he detected the first signs of the two dust clouds circling Earth.

Can these dust 'moons’ be dangerous or will they help us?

These huge clouds of dust could add much to space exploration efforts when it comes to fuel consumption and safety issues. 

Sometimes, satellites need to be parked at the Lagrange points so that the spacecraft consumes minimal fuel and can still stay in orbit.

The James Webb Space Telescope is set up at the L2 Lagrange point for this purpose.

Moreover, space agencies are also planning to use Lagrange points as transfer stations for Mars missions.

What needs to be seen now is -- are there more such dust 'moons’ waiting to be found at nearby Lagrange points?


“Celestial mechanics and polarization optics of the Kordylewski dust cloud in the Earth-Moon Lagrange point L5 - Part I. Three-dimensional celestial mechanical modelling of dust cloud formation”, J. Slíz-Balogh, A. Barta and G. Horváth, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2018), 480 (4): 5550-5559 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty2049.


You Might Also Like :

1 commenti:

Anonymous said...

Excellent report 👌💫

Post a Comment