A tiny moon of Neptune found in 2013 has lastly been named after scientists have completed puzzling over its origins.
It was named Hippocamp after a legendary monster from Greek mythology which has a horse’s physique and fish’s tail, and the brand new moon takes the tally of Neptunian satellites to 14.
The principles of the Worldwide Astronomical Union require that the moons of Neptune are named after Greek and Roman mythology of the undersea world, so Moony McMoonface was by no means on the playing cards.
Hippocamp was noticed by astronomers utilizing the Hubble area telescope in 2013, and instantly prompted confusion from scientists.
“The very first thing we realised was that you just would not anticipate finding such a tiny moon proper subsequent to Neptune’s greatest internal moon,” stated Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
Usually such a small object would have been subsumed by the gravity of the bigger internal moon Proteus, however the researchers have seen that it’s in a secure orbit.
The scientists consider that the tiny moon – solely 20 miles (34km) throughout – in all probability started life after a comet collided with the bigger moon Proteus billions of years in the past.
Photos captured by the Voyager 2 probe assist this speculation, exhibiting a big influence crater on Proteus – nearly giant sufficient to have shattered the big moon.
“In 1989, [when the Voyager image was taken] we thought the crater was the tip of the story,” stated Mr Showalter.
“With Hubble, now we all know that a bit piece of Proteus acquired left behind and we see it right now as Hippocamp.”
The orbits of the 2 moons at the moment are 7,500 miles (about 12,000km) aside.
“Within the distant previous, given the gradual migration outward of the bigger moon, Proteus was as soon as the place Hippocamp is now,” stated Mr Showalter.
The identify and the origin of the moon can be confirmed in a paper revealed within the journal Nature.
It was written by astronomers from the SETI Institute and NASA.