That's no moon...
July 15, 2013 4:16 PM   Subscribe

The 14th moon of the planet Neptune has been confirmed. New Scientist: "...its existence is an enigma. The object, known for now as S/2004 N1, is the first Neptunian moon to be found in a decade. Its diminutive size raises questions as to how it survived the chaos thought to have created the giant planet's other moons."

Sky and Telescope: "If its surface is dark, like those of other nearby satellites, then the new find has a diameter of no more than 10 to 12 miles (16 to 20 km) — the smallest of Neptune's 14 known moons."

National Geographic: "According to Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute in California who discovered the moon, the newfound object is almost 100 million times fainter than the faintest star visible to the naked eye."

Wired: "Because S/2004 N1 is so dim, Showalter needed some time to confirm the moon’s presence. After aligning and combining about 15 sets of Hubble images taken between 2004 and 2009, he determined that the dot was, in fact, a moon. Roughly 150 images helped him plot the satellite’s orbit. "You can’t see it in the individual images, but when you combine images, it turns up," he said. "It turns up very consistently.""

NPR: "Showalter, meanwhile, says that the team wants to let the public vote for the name of Neptune's new moon too, but the final choice will have to fit with convention. And, he says, it will have to avoid pop-culture references: "Aquaman is not a Greek or Roman character I'm afraid.""
posted by Wordshore (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
When they find it's in the perfect form of a turtle, it's going to change EVERYTHING.
posted by unSane at 6:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

... All the way down!
posted by Max Power at 6:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Outer Solar System? Sea-themed planet? Water deities? Name to be determined by public election? Alright, internet. You know what to do.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:50 PM on July 15, 2013

uh. . .

well. . .

No. Give us a hint.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2013

I'm talking about Lovecraft, of course.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by unSane at 7:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

How did it survive? The same way the Earth did: it got lucky.
posted by gjc at 7:22 PM on July 15, 2013

In other news, Juipter has 62 moons. Too many to name!
posted by thewalrus at 8:06 PM on July 15, 2013

64 moons. Heh. Anyone remember the Dogon, and the people who were saying their knowledge of "Jupiter's four moons" was proof of extraterrestrial contact? Waaoooow....

Seriously, I'd love to run an rpg or write a novel set in the Jupiter system. All kinds of different moons, amazingly different environments, and over it all, Jupiter looming like a God. The giant robots would probably be the least exotic element of the setting.
posted by happyroach at 1:31 AM on July 16, 2013

And, he says, it will have to avoid pop-culture references: "Aquaman is not a Greek or Roman character I'm afraid."

awwwww :(
posted by panboi at 5:48 AM on July 16, 2013

The interesting question is: with all the dozens of moons in the solar system, what are the odds that many (if any) of them are actually the result of stupendous collisions?

If that's not to be believed, then we definitely need to revisit the probable mechanisms of moon formation. And the increasingly suspicious theory that "our" moon was one of them (with its echoes of geocentrism).
posted by Twang at 4:55 PM on July 16, 2013

Ohhhh, what is it going to be called? Can we name it something awesome?
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:33 PM on July 19, 2013

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