How many moons can Earth have at most?

Earth’s sky is lit by one natural satellite, the Moon. This was the case 4.5 billion years ago, and this should, a priori, not change. But let’s imagine that our planet has inherited several moons. How many of them can we observe in the sky without modifying the Earth’s orbital conditions?

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[EN VIDÉO] Europa, a habitable moon in the solar system
Europa is one of Jupiter’s four major moons. It is home to an ocean of icy water, and scientists believe life could be there.

our solar system It has eight planets, plus a few dwarf planets, such as Pluto where Ceres. But we often forget to consider that they are not traveling alone in their constant race around Sun. Most of them are already accompanied by one or more natural satellites. If the names of some of these satellites are now known to the general public, such as EuropeAnd the Ganymede where TitanHowever, their number is much more important than that.

Our solar system has more than 200 moons! Almost all orbit around the four gas giants And only three find themselves affiliated with rocky planets. this is our the moon and the moon of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. Mercury And the Venus It has no natural satellites. This amazing difference between the two types of planets will not be unnatural, the presence of moons in orbit around a planet is closely related to the mechanisms of its formation and processes of orbit evolution. Parameters that differ significantly between small planets Rock and gas giants.

Several moons around the earth? physically possible situation

However, the state of the Earth is very interesting, because our planet has one moon, its The size is surprisingly large. A property resulting from the violent birth of our satellite, after the collision between the young Earth and another protoplanet called clothes.

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But can our planet have multiple moons? This is the question the researchers asked themselves. by accounts and modeling Digital, the team of scientists focused more specifically on the maximum number of natural satellites that could theoretically orbiting around the Earth without modifying the current conditions for orbital stability. If this type of research seems far-fetched, it nevertheless allows us to better understand the processes of planet formation in general, as well as to understand the gravitational balances of planetary systems.

The results are published in the journal Astrophysics of Earth and Planets, shows that the maximum number of moons that can orbit the Earth depends on their respective sizes. And so our sky can be illuminated, at will, by seven or eight moons the size of Ceres, four or five moons the size of Pluto, or even three or even four moons the size of our present moon.

Exomoons are still hard to recognize

Can not do more without changing the conditions orbitals of the Earth and thus jeopardize its development and in particularAppearance of from life. Thus, this study makes it possible to estimate the maximum number of satellites capable of orbiting a planet without destabilizing it.

Thus, the results of this study can facilitate the identification of the presence of small moons orbiting around itouter planets Earth size rocks. Because, if the number of discovered exoplanets continues to increase today, Only two outer satellites have been identified so far. However, its size exceeds the size of the Earth and the planets orbiting around it of the type Jupiter. But scientists are optimistic: The next few decades should bring their share of new outer moons of even smaller sizes.

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