We have one moon, also known as the Silver Globe, but our planet could have more of these natural satellites.
This vision was submitted by the scholars responsible for the publication to be available in Astrophysics of Earth and Planets. The cooperation of representatives of several institutions led to an estimate of the maximum number of moons that can orbit the Earth under current conditions such as orbital stability.
In a previous work, I studied the planetary distribution of the Alpha Centauri binary system. In this case, I made an estimate of how many planets could exist in each star’s habitable zone. In this scenario, the habitable zone provided natural boundary conditions with which I could apply the same dynamic formalism to the moons problem (using the Earth-Sun system as a binary). To determine the outer limits, one of the co-authors has developed a chart that we can use. One of the authors, Billy Quarles, explains
Combining these ideas, his team concluded that more than ten objects the size of Ceres, six Plato’s, and four moons could simultaneously serve as Earth’s satellites. Although there are more than 200 moons in the solar system, only three orbit rocky planets. This “our” group includes the Silver Globe, Phobos, and Deimos orbiting Mars.
Most of the moons in our system revolve around gas giants
However, the rest of the representatives of this large group revolve around gas giants, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. This huge difference is due to the fact that these objects experience different orbital formation and evolution mechanisms and processes. In the case of Earth, the maximum number of them depends on the assumed sizes of the moons themselves. The authors considered objects the size of Ceres, Pluto, and the Moon to determine how many objects could orbit the blue planet.
Jupiter’s moons of Galilee cause what’s called tidal heating, in which constant expansion and pressure leads to volcanic activity on Io and Europa’s subsurface, among other things. It was not known whether a similar situation could apply to Earth.
It’s tempting to suggest that the innermost moon may resemble Io, but its tidal heating is due in part to the resonance of medium motion with Other Galilean moons. In our systems, the mean motion echo greatly destabilizes the satellite system as the Sun drives the increase in the eccentric eccentricity of each moon and leads to potential scattering.Quarles admits
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