Hidden Nook

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Cigar Shaped World Has Moon

[Media Source*]

(New Scientist Space) Astronomers have spotted a second moon around a massive, cigar-shaped world at the fringes of the solar system. The discovery suggests multiple moons orbit many large, distant objects – but their unusual orbits raise questions about just how they could have formed.

This "world" (called 2003 EL61) orbits in a region known as the Kuiper Belt, where several large Plutonian-sized objects have been spotted, some half the size of Pluto. EL61 is unique because not only is it potatoed shaped (measuring 2000 km on its longest side) but also because the moons orbiting this world at odd angles. This may suggest it is nothing more than a surviving remnant of a much larger world.

(New Scientist Space) Robin Canup, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, US, agrees that a collision could explain the presence of the moons and the larger object's spin. But she says the difference in the moons' orbits is "surprising in this context, and may point to a more complex history for this system".

Image credit: Photo from New Scientist Space

What lies in this moons past, astronomers and scientists will have to determine. Although the world is a scientific curiosity, it will probably not draw much attention being in the fact that it lies so far from the Suns warm rayes. After all, who would want to live on a cigar shaped planet?

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By Darnell Clayton • 9:32 PM • Email Post • •


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