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Space & Astronomy

Are there moonmoons orbiting other moons ?

By T.K. Randall
October 14, 2018 · Comment icon 9 comments



What do you call a moon that is in orbit around another moon ? Image Credit: NASA / Sean Smith
A new study has looked in to the possibility that some large moons may actually have their own 'submoons'.
While we currently don't know of any real world examples of moons orbiting other moons, two scientists - Juna Kollmeier and Sean Raymond - recently determined that the idea is plausible.

By using equations designed to calculate the tidal effects of planets on their moons, the pair worked out that a moon can potentially exist around another moon so long as the host moon is sufficiently large, the submoon is sufficiently small and a wide enough gap exists between them.

On this basis, it is theoretically feasible for some of the moons in our solar system to have smaller moons of their own, including Saturn's moon Titan, Jupiter's moon Callisto and even our own moon.
But if we did discover such a moon, what would we call it ?

Some of the terms that have been used to describe such a theoretical body include submoon, moonito, grandmoon, moonette, moooon and the increasingly popular moonmoon.

And what would you call a moon orbiting a moon that is itself orbiting another moon ?

Until such a thing is discovered however, it is unlikely that an official term will ever be needed.

Source: Live Science | Comments (9)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
It is also plausible there is intelligent life on other planets somewhere, keep looking and maybe one day you will get your answer. But plausible is not quite the same as discovered.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Orphalesion 4 years ago
I say the same thing I said on another forum. They should obviously be called "moonlets" Or maybe Chibi-Moons.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Carlos Allende 4 years ago
Comment icon #4 Posted by cyclopes500 4 years ago
In a way our planet is a moon of the sun and we have a moon ourselves. So why not. Also I expect somewhere in the mysterious dark turbulent Pandoras box of space there's a smaller denser planet being orbited by a much lighter moon that's bigger than the parent body. Lastly you have what could be called a moonie. A planet with two round moons of equal size and shape close together and orbiting the same point in space really fast as a binary. The question is what to call them if each has one big ice volcano on them and no more.
Comment icon #5 Posted by cyclopes500 4 years ago
Ones occupied by Alf Garnets perhaps. I didn't notice him earlier. Talk about spooky.
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
So basically, if a moon is as large as Pluto, it can have moons of its own.  Make sense.  How much was this grant to theorize this?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Hankenhunter 4 years ago
Came for the moonlets, leaving happy. How bout minimoons? Moonspawn? Got nothin. Hank
Comment icon #8 Posted by taniwha 4 years ago
How bout a moon within a moon? Now that's something your not likely to see everyday!
Comment icon #9 Posted by kobolds 4 years ago
Not Possible .  for example. earth capture by a bigger planet (planet-X) . somehow manage maintain stable gravity pull and become moon of planet-X. earth moon on the other hand will not be able continue orbiting earth because , it will be pull  by planet-X and become planet-X moon if earth manage to pull back , this will cause stand still between  earth and planet-X .  which mean when earth orbiting planet-X , the moon will follow.    can we call such situation moonmoon orbiting other moom ?      


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