Stunning picture of Neptune planet and its newly-discovered moon
Xeber24.net – Daily star
NASA has found a new moon orbiting the planet Neptune — and it has been dubbed Hippocamp in keeping with the mythical theme.
“It orbits close to Proteus – the outermost and largest of these moons. Proteus has migrated outwards because of tidal interactions with Neptune.
“Our results suggest Hippocamp is probably an ancient fragment of Proteus – providing further support for the hypothesis that the inner Neptune system has been shaped by numerous impacts.”
Dr Showalter, who has now discovered six moons and three planetary rings, thinks Hippocamp was formed when fragments came off Proteus when it was hit by a big comet.
The moon had been hiding in plain sight in space.
It had already been captured in previous images of its nearby planet taken by NASA’s Hubble.
But astronomers’ technical abilities were not enough to actually spot it – and only now has the tiny world actually been noticed and catalogued.
The first picture that included Hippocamp was actually taken in 2004 but scientists couldn’t see it as it was moving so quickly.
Astronomer Anne Verbiscer, of Virginia University who was not involved in the study, said: “Hippocamp, a previously undetected moon of Neptune, has a peculiar location and a tiny size relative to the planet’s other inner moons, which suggests a violent history for the region within 100,000 kilometres of the planet.”
The discovery could lead to other moons and “exoplanets” outside the solar system being found – some of which could harbour life.