Scientists have recently discovered that two of Neptune's moon, Naiad and Thalassa were engaged in a constant “dance of avoidance”, ensuring that the two tiny moons do not bump into each other. According to the scientists, Naiad's orbit is tilted and perfectly timed as every time it passes the “slower-moving” Thalassa, the two are about 3,540 kilometres apart. Naiad swirls around the ice giant every seven hours, while Thalassa takes seven and a half hours. The scientists have referred the lengthy defy gravity and resist from colliding into each other as “resonance”.
The orbits of Neptune’s two tiny moons, Naiad and Thalassa, are a mere 1,850 kilometres apart from each other—a miniscule distance in planetary scale.— The Weather Channel India (@weatherindia) November 18, 2019
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📸: (NASA/JPL-Caltech) pic.twitter.com/WeXb4Z7KBp
Marina Brozović, an expert in solar system dynamics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said, “There are many different types of 'dances' that planets, moons and asteroids can follow, but this one has never been seen before."
The scientists have described Naiad and Thalassa as small “Tic-Tac shaped”, spanning only about 100 kilometres in length. The scientist believes that the original satellite system was disrupted when Neptune captured its giant moon, Triton, and later these inner moons and rings formed the leftover debris.
"We suspect that Naiad was kicked into its tilted orbit by an earlier interaction with one of Neptune's other inner moons," Brozović said. "Only later, after its orbital tilt was established, could Naiad settle into this unusual resonance with Thalassa."
In a recent rare event, Mercury crossed between the Earth and the Sun, on November 11, which was tracked by Solar Dynamics Observatory, a mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The observatory, which views the Sun in a variety of wavelengths of light in the extreme ultraviolet, tracked the journey which will not occur again until 2032. The transit lasted a little over 5.5 hours and ended after Mercury left the disk of the Sun but continued moving out through the corona for another 30 minutes.