Because the Voyager probes moved to utilize the outer Photovoltaic System, they compiled an enormous report of discovery. Among the many, newly discovered objects and phenomena had been a big assortment of small moons orbiting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Most of those had been passed the flexibility of Earth-primarily based hardware to picture on time—we truly needed to be there to see them.
Since then, nonetheless, enhancements in floor-based mostly optics and the existence of the Hubble Space Telescope have enabled us to search out a number of small our bodies that had been missed by the Voyagers, in addition to different small objects elsewhere within the Solar System, such because the Kuiper Belt object just lately visited by New Horizons. Now, researchers have discovered a method to make use of advances in the computation to extend what we can do with imaging even additional, recognizing a tiny new moon at Neptune and probably recognizing one other for the primary time since Voyager 2 was there.
One of many issues with this concept is that the shut proximity to Proteus ought to have thrown Hippocamp into an eccentric orbit. However, the researchers recommend this is not as a lot of an issue because it appears. Primarily based on the crater charges and sizes on Proteus, they estimate that collisions giant sufficient to wipe Hippocamp out entirely would have occurred at the least nine instances since its formation. The method of destruction and re-formation ought to enable the moon to occupy progressively other common orbits.
That model, nevertheless, means that it and presumably different small moons close to Neptune have skilled some destructions throughout their historical past reasonably than merely having been put in place throughout Neptune’s formation. And there is plenty of materials unaccounted for, which suggests there could also be some sparse rings within the area that might be troublesome to detect without one other go to the blue planet.