Earth has two extra, hidden ‘moons’

Earth has two extra, hidden ‘moons’

Earth’s moon may not be alone. After more than half a century of speculation and controversy, Hungarian astronomers and physicists say they have finally confirmed the existence of two Earth-orbiting “moons” entirely made of dust. As they describe in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the team managed to capture snapshots of the…

Earth’s moon may not be alone. After more than half a century of speculation and controversy, Hungarian astronomers and physicists say they have finally confirmed the existence of two Earth-orbiting “moons” entirely made of dust.

As they describe in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the team managed to capture snapshots of the mysterious clouds lurking just 250,000 miles away, roughly the same distance as the moon.

Researchers previously inferred the presence of multiple natural companions to Earth, but the dust clouds weren’t actually seen until 1961, when their namesake, Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski, got a glimpse. Even then, their presence was questioned.

“The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the moon, are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy,” says study coauthor Judit Slíz-Balogh, an astronomer at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. “It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor.”

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According to the new findings, each Kordylewski cloud is about 15 by 10 degrees wide, or equal to 30 by 20 lunar disks in the night sky. This translates to an area in space about 65,000 by 45,000 miles in actual size—nearly nine times wider than Earth.

The clouds themselves are enormous, but the individual particles that comprise them are estimated to measure just a micrometer across. Sunlight reflecting off these particles makes them glow ever so slightly—just like the pyramid-shaped glow of the zodiacal light that results from dust scattered between the orbits of the planets.

These satellite clouds, however, have remained hidden in the darkness of space until now simply because they are super faint.

“It is very difficult to detect the Kordylewski clouds against the galactic light, star light, zodiacal light, a

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