Published: Sun, October 14, 2018
Science | By

Moonception: Study Shows Bigger Moons Can Have Moons Of Their Own

Moonception: Study Shows Bigger Moons Can Have Moons Of Their Own

Perhaps there are some people out there that have been wondering 'what if the moon had its own moon?'.

Raymond and Kollmeier refer to this hypothetical moon as a "submoon" in the paper. Hundreds of jokes and memes spread across Twitter within hours of the paper's publication and an article in the New Scientist.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington's Juna Kollmeier AKA "The Junaverse" told HuffPost that while none of the planets' moons in our solar system now have moons (that we know of), "Earth's moon, one of Jupiter's moons and two of Saturn's moons" may all have once had moons.


At least that has become the popular term to describe the potential phenomenon written about in a paper (we first learned about at Quartz) by Juna Kollmeier of Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena and Sean Raymond of France's University of Bordeaux. Even our own moon is the right size and distance from Earth to potentially host its very own moon. However, what makes this really interesting is that the scientists even imagined how to call the moons of a moon. And, they suggest, we should see if the recently discovered candidate exomoon circling Kepler 1625b has its own moon as well. New Scientist chose to get creative with names and called them "moonmoons", although there are different variations of the name, including moonitos, moonettes and moooons.

Breaking down the tidal considerations of a moonmoon in the October 9 arXiv preprint server paper, Kollmeier contends "moons may migrate inward and crash into their host planets or migrate outward until they reach the stability limit". Most moons are smaller than the planets they orbit, but some actually bigger than planets. "He was the inspiration for the work and if he likes moonmoons or moonito or whatever; I have to back it!" But the astronomers have some suggestions, according to New Scientist. She concluded that "I'm super excited about this - by doing calculations of possible submoon trajectories and comparing known architectures, we may learn a lot more about the solar system which is fantastic".

This study also drew the internet's attention because of a 2014 meme about a stupid dog or wolf called Moon Moon.

Like this: