True to form, the internet has endeavored to name an unnamed thing, and the results are hilarious. From the people who brought you Boaty McBoatface— the Arctic research drone that has already returned some very interesting discoveriesfrom the world’s coldest abysses — here come moonmoons: moons that orbit other moons.
Moonmoons — also known online as submoons, moonitos, grandmoons, moonettes and moooons — may not exist in our solar system or any other. However, according to a pair of astronomers writing in the preprint journal arXiv.org earlier this week, the concept of a moon hosting its own mini-moon is, at least, plausible. [Top 10 Amazing Moon Facts]
“In all known planetary systems, natural satellites occur in a restricted dynamical phase space: Planets orbit stars, and moons orbit planets,” the researchers wrote in their new paper (published online Oct. 9). “It is natural to ask, ‘Can submoons orbit moons?'”