When a Moon Has a Moon, It’s a Moonmoon

Public Domain. pixabay

Scientists exploring the possibility of a moon having a moon of its own have suggested that the wee orbs be called moonmoons.

While natural disasters and dire climate change warnings and shady politics abound, thank the heavens (literally) we have moonmoons to distract us.

We own this moment of lunar sweetness to Juna Kollmeier of Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and Sean Raymond of the University of Bordeaux, France. The two have authored a paper called “Can Moons Have Moons?” in which they argue that a moon can indeed have a moon of its own – even if we’ve yet to discover one.

It seems that much of the Internet is over the moon for the idea – and what’s not to love? It’s impossibly cute, the celestial version of one’s pet having a pet of their own.

Natasha Frost explains on Quartz that moonmoons could occur when all the proper pieces are in place “if, for instance, the large moon is quite large, the small moon is quite small, and both are sufficiently far away from the host planet.” Moons that are close to their mother planet would risk losing their moonmoon to mom’s tidal forces, “resulting in the submoon being shredded up, shot out into space, or sent careening off course and potentially crashing into their moon and its planet,” Frost writes.

Since moonmoons have yet to be discovered, they have yet to have an official name. But the astronomers have some suggestions, according to New Scientist. Along with moonmoons, they could also be called submoons, moonitos, moonettes, or moooons.

“IAU will have to decide!” Kollmeier told Quartz. The IAU, International Astronomical Union, is the body responsible for giving celestial objects their official names.

But regardless of the name – or if they even exist at all – the idea of moonmoons alone is enough to raise thoughts skyward to the mysterious heavens and leave the chaos of Earth behind, even if just for a few moon-swooning moments.