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SPACE: Neptune’s Moons Locked in a Strange Dance

Neptune - pixabay

Astronomers have discovered an unusual pattern around Neptune. The gas giant’s innermost moons are doing everything in their power to steer clear from one another in a weird, zigzagging pattern that astronomers are calling a “dance of avoidance.” Thalassa and Naiad’s orbital paths sit no farther apart than Chicago and Miami, about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers). But their zigzagging path around each other as they orbit Neptune ensures that the moons themselves never get that close. Naiad moves faster than Thalassa, circling Neptune in 7 hours versus its twin’s orbital time of 7.5 hours. Every time Naiad passes the slower … Read more