Moon floating around Neptune explains collision theory: Discovered

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13 moons floating around Neptune
13 moons floating around Neptune

New Delhi : A tiny moon is floating around Neptune and after years of research, scientists have discovered its existence. All together, there are 13 moons floating around the planet and all these are connected with the Greek mythology.

With the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute discovered Hippocamp in July 2013. The moons around Neptune are Triton, Nereid, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus, Halimede, Sao, Laomedeia, Psamathe and Neso and interestingly all the moons have been named after sea gods.

Scientists reveals that a collision with a comet billions of years ago may have caused a part of one of the larger moon’s to form Hippocamp. In fact, it floats really close, about 12,070 kilometers to the moon Proteus, the outermost and largest of these moons.

The name Hippocamp has been derived from Greek mythology, where it symbolises a sea monster; while Hippocampus is a region in the brain that governs emotions, memory and cognition.

"The first thing we realised was that you wouldn't expect to find such a tiny moon right next to Neptune's biggest inner moon. In the distant past, given the slow migration outward of the larger moon, Proteus was once where Hippocamp is now," Showalter mentioned.

NASA's image from 1989 Voyager 2 mission had also confirmed a large crater on Proteus which confirms the collision therory.

NASA scientists explains the history of Neptune's satellite system, starting from Triton, which was pulled into orbit from the Kuiper Belt, a cloud of dust and debris floating beyond the orbit of Neptune, billions of years ago.

Triton settled into a circular orbit and debris from shattered Neptunian moons rearranged into a second generation of natural satellites. Further comet collisions with the moons may have led to the birth of Hippocamp.

"Based on estimates of comet populations, we know that other moons in the outer solar system have been hit by comets, smashed apart, and re-accreted multiple times," Jack Lissauer from NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, and co-author on the new research, said in the press note