Some moons have moons of their own - moonmoons

You'll Never Guess What Scientists Want to Call The Moon of a Moon

Bigger Moons Have Moons, And Some Are Calling Them 'Moonmoons'

Yes, according to new calculations, and it would be called a "moonmoon," New Scientist reports. However, what makes this really interesting is that the scientists even imagined how to call the moons of a moon.

We own this moment of lunar sweetness to Juna Kollmeier of Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Sean Raymond of the University of Bordeaux, France.

Could a moon actually have its own moon, orbiting around it, rather than around the planet?

Raymond told New Scientist, 'Something has to kick a rock into orbit at the right speed that it would go into orbit around a moon, and not the planet or the star'.

But that's okay. The paper lays good groundwork for future research into the possibility of moonmoons, and also helps us understand the formation histories of planets and their satellites.

For instance, the moonmoon shouldn't be too small or too close to the host planet. There should also be enough distance between the main moon and the planet it orbits.

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Sure, it could be called a "submoon". And, they suggest, we should see if the recently discovered candidate exomoon circling Kepler 1625b has its own moon as well.

There are about 170 moons in the Solar System, most of which orbit the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.

It all started off with a simple question, when Kollmeier was asked by her son four years ago if moons have moons.

Within the Solar System, four moons now meet that particular requirement: Earth's Moon, Jovian moon Callisto, and Titus and Iapetus in orbit around Saturn. Moons that are close to their mother planet would risk losing their moonmoon to mom's tidal forces, "resulting in the submoon being shredded up, shot out into space, or sent careening off course and potentially crashing into their moon and its planet", Frost writes.

Whatever comes out on top-moonmoons, grandmoons, moon-squareds, nested moons or who knows what-astronomers need to prove they exist before we call them anything. So as far as I'm concerned, moonmoons are now a thing.

"Further studies of the potential formation mechanisms, long-term dynamical survival, and detectability of submoons is encouraged", Kollimeier concludes in the two-page paper.

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