No one’s ever seen a moonmoon but the internet already loves them

Why can’t our moon have its own moonmoon?


Science Photo Library – ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI

Scientists are exploring the possibility of a smaller moon going around a larger moon, and there are some truly adorable names being kicked around.

One name being considered is “moonmoon,” according to New Scientist.

No known moons have a moonmoon, but Sean Raymond and Juna Kollmeier, the astronomers working on the paper titled “Can Moons Have Moons?” argue that the existence of such a moon is possible given the right conditions.

For instance, the moonmoon shouldn’t be too small or too close to the host planet. Those factors could result in the destabilisation of its orbit due to tidal forces and consequently cause the moonmoon to crash into host planets or eventually be “removed.” Theoretically, any of Saturn’s moons (Titan and Iapetus), Jupiter’s moon Callisto or even our own moon could have a moonmoon, the astronomers wrote.

Raymond and Kollmeier refer to this hypothetical moon as a “submoon” in the paper. Other scientists exploring the same subject have called it a “moon-moon.”

These names are just two of several other suggestions, though. Other possible names include “moonlet,” “moonito,” “moonette” and “grandmoon.”

The International Astronomical Union will decide on its final name but internet users are already having fun with “moonmoon.”


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