Astronomers Confirm Earth Has Two Previously Undiscovered Moons

in a dark place

Astronomers discovered that Earth has two other ‘moons’ in addition to the one we’re all familiar with, according to a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. That is, if you’ll consider two massive dust clouds to technically be called moons.

Though astronomers had an inkling there might be other natural satellites in Earth’s orbit, none had ever been officially recorded until just recently. And now Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski is probably laughing from his grave, saying “I told you so,” as he was the first to report seeing the dust moons in 1961. At least they honored him by naming these pseudo-satellites Kordylewski clouds.

The clouds were officially discovered by Hungarian astronomers Gabor Horvath and Judit Sliz-Balogh of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Using special equipment, the two were able to clearly distinguish the hazy clouds against the dark backdrop of empty space.

But with all of the technology in the aerospace industry it’s odd we’re just finding these dust clouds that have been orbiting our planet at Lagrange Points – the position where they remain balanced by the centripetal force of their orbit and the gravitational pull of the Earth and Sun. Our dust moons reside in the L4 and L5 Lagrange points.

And it’s within these Lagrange points that NASA planned to put satellites in a holding position to conserve fuel for interplanetary missions, including trips to Mars. With potential missions on the horizon, it’s a good thing these cosmic dust bunnies were confirmed in the event they might pose any threat to spacecraft.

“The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy,” Slíz-Balogh said. “It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor.”

The clouds are in orbit at about 250,000 miles from the Earth, roughly the same distance our previously known moon orbits, and have been referred to by NatGeo as something like cosmic tumbleweed.

kordylewski dust cloud

An artist’s depiction of a dust moon

 

It’s unclear how long these clouds have been in orbit, though it’s almost certain they’ve been there since 1961, when Kordylewski first observed them. And it’s possible they may eventually dissipate entirely, making them ephemeral moons of sort.

No one has yet commented on the way these ‘moons’ might affect astrological phenomena here on Earth. Could it be possible that the dust moons’ orbit influences our daily lives much like the traditional moon? And how long has its presence made an impact?

The search for another moon orbiting Earth does have history, as astronomers as far back as the 19th century have claimed to observe other large natural satellites in our planet’s orbit. Many of these have been written off as near-Earth objects (NEOs) whose orbits are in resonance with Earth, or are “Earth trojans,” which orbit the Sun on a similar path as Earth.

Often these objects temporarily enter our orbit and are reported for centuries as anomalous observations by professional and amateur astronomers alike. In some cases, there have even been reports of potential alien satellites orbiting the planet in retrograde, though this instance is highly contentious.

This latest news comes after China’s announced plan to launch an artificial moon into orbit to light up some of its cities at night. The announcement riled up hollow moon theories that have posited our moon may be an artificial satellite based on some anomalous features observed over the years.

Whatever the case may be, the definition of a “moon” is getting more and more confusing. Can’t we just go back to everyone’s favorite lunar conspiracy – the one where the moon is made of cheese?

 

For more on some of the strange anomalies surrounding one of Earth’s most well-known satellites watch this episode of Deep Space



Science Says Wormhole Travel is Real; Can We Use it for Exotic Propulsion?

Wormhole Travel Now Possible

Once believed to be sci-fi fantasy, new research suggests we may be able to achieve interstellar travel using wormholes as shortcuts through spacetime.

Recently, physicist Pascal Koiran at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France published a pre-print study detailing the potential that matter could enter the event horizon of a black hole and pass through a wormhole and exit out the other end intact. Though still highly theoretical, wormholes are believed to be incredibly unstable as they exist as a tunnel between a black hole and a white hole in another part of the universe. 

But because nothing, including light, can escape a black hole once it has crossed its event horizon, physicists have believed that matter would need to somehow enter the wormhole outside of the event horizon in order to safely pass through.

Dr. Simeon Hein, director of the Institute for Resonance, explains the mind-bending physics of this theoretical phenomenon.

“So the idea people were beginning to think, ‘well, what happens to the matter and energy that gets condensed and condensed into a black hole?’” Dr. Hein said. “The idea was that it had to be ejected somewhere else beyond that point in space. And that became the idea of a wormhole to another point in spacetime where all the matter and energy would be ejected from the black hole to conserve this idea of symmetry which is the foundation of modern physics — that there’s kind of a basic symmetry to the universe. And so the other side of the wormhole is a white hole.”

If wormholes have been conceptualized by theoretical physics for decades, what is so novel about the mathematics proposed in this recent paper?

“Physicist Pascal Koiran in France, he looked at another way to measure what’s going on in the mathematics of black holes. He used a different metric than Einstein would have used because back in the 1950s, two different physicists, David Finkelstein and Sir Arthur Eddington of the Royal Society in the UK, both proposed that there was this point of no return in the black hole where once you got past a certain point, it was no longer symmetrical, you couldn’t leave anymore, the so-called Schwarzschild radius,” Dr. Hein said.

“Past this point, you would just keep getting more compressed and you would have to go through the wormhole. So, using the so-called Finkelstein-Eddington metric — and a metric, by the way, is kind of the idea of a standard unit of measurement, a standard unit of anything: speed, direction, or position — using this measurement Koiran was able to show that it’s actually more stable than you think; that there is some stability even at the highest level of gravitational compression in a black hole. This would suggest that moving through it, maybe something really would survive.”

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