Geek Trivia: Which Of These Planets Has A Moon With A Bobbing Orbit?

Geek Trivia: Which Of These Planets Has A Moon With A Bobbing Orbit?


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A computer rendering showing the orbital patterns of Neptune's two inner moons

Reply: Neptune

The universe is an enormous place and in the event you look lengthy sufficient, you’re sure to seek out some fairly unusual issues. Typically you don’t even should look deep into the reaches of the universe, you possibly can simply take a look at your (relative) again yard.

One of the best type of unusual, in our opinion, is the type of unusual the place one thing comparatively widespread presents itself in an unusual means. Take, for instance, the thought of orbital resonance and the moons of Neptune. Orbital resonance, merely, is the concept orbiting our bodies exert common, periodic gravitational affect on one another because of moments when their orbits align. The moons of Jupiter (Ganymede, Europa, and Io), for instance, assist stabilize one another by gently tugging on one another’s orbits as they cross by one another.

So there’s the comparatively widespread half. The unusual half presents itself with Neptune’s inside moons Naiad and Thalassa. Whereas Thalassa maintains a comparatively secure orbit (when it comes to orbiting on a flat aircraft across the planet), Naiad strikes in a movement not in contrast to a carousel horse arising and down. To stay secure regardless of shut proximity to Thalassa and a barely quicker orbital interval, Naiad strikes in “zig-zag like” sample up and down like a wobbly hula hoop rocking on somebody’s hips—this animation from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory makes it a bit easier to visualize. The odd “dancing” orbit is the one recognized instance of two orbital our bodies having up-down orbital resonance.