Who knew outer space could be so adorable?
Photo by Bob Familar/Flickr
Can a moon have a moon?
Sounds like the question a precocious kindergartner or a stoned college student may have pondered at some point in their lives.
But it’s actually a question being asked by serious scientists.
Juna Kollmeier at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Sean Raymond at the University of Bordeaux recently released a study that looked at whether a moon could have a moon.
Their findings suggest that, in most cases, tidal forces would pull the little moon towards the big moon, destroying both in the process. However, they do believe that a small baby moon of about 6 miles in diameter or less could orbit a larger moon.
Researchers believe that four planets in our solar system, including Earth, have moons that are large enough to support a smaller, orbiting moon.
The problem is, if one of these moons is discovered what do we call it? ““IAU [International Astronomical Union] will have to decide!” Kollmeier told Quartz.
Raymond and Kollmeier have a few names of which they approve:
Submoons — Boring!
Moonitos — Sounds like an item on the Taco Bell late-night menu.
Moonettes — Just because it’s smaller, why does that make it female? Huh?
Moooons — How would you even pronounce that? Like a cow?
But the best by far has to be moonmoons.
Moonmoon sounds like something you’d call a loved one or a pet. Or, possibly, a honeymoon within a honeymoon. “Like, we went to Honolulu, but it was pretty hectic so we took a break over on Kuai, you know, for a little moonmoon.”
If Twitter was allowed to name the moon that orbits a moon, moonmoon would win in a landslide.
How much moon could a moonmoon moon if a moonmoon could moon moon https://t.co/wuw8OHG8ax— pumpkin king (@lauren__ovee) October 11, 2018\n
moonmoon is now my favorite term of endearment, surpassing dumpling and handsome frond— moonmoon sicardi (@arabellesicardi) October 10, 2018\n
Moonmoon can have moonmoonmoons too?— Celin (@Celynxx) October 10, 2018\n
If you ask me, they are "Submoons" (hence the title of our article!!!) But the internet has brought forth a wide variety of names and associated joy and for this, I'm delighted: Moonlet, Moonmoon, Moonito, Moonette, Moonlet, Grandmoon, Metamoon...#letsasklevi— Juna A. Kollmeier (@thejunaverse) October 10, 2018\n
Your moonmoon name is your name + your name— Rads (@FeelingEuphoric) October 11, 2018\n