Scientists have been puzzled over why they have not yet found an exomoon, a moon discovered outside the solar system. The latest theory suggests that moons orbiting huge planets could be driven out of the planet's orbit, creating a new planet – or a "ploonet," as it is nicknamed. To learn more about this, the scientists performed computer simulations on exoplanets, commonly called Jupiters.
These exoplanets are the size of Jupiter – the largest planet in the solar system – but as close to their star as Mercury.
Simulations have shown that these large planets often start much further, then drift for billions of years to their stars.
However, while massive celestial bodies are floating towards the star, one of the two things that usually happens to their moons, according to a team from the University of Antioquia in Colombia.
Simulations show that 44% of moons crash on the planet, while 48% leave the orbit of their planet and orbit their host star, creating a bubble.
The star eats six percent of the moons and two percent are driven out of the planetary system.
The researchers write in the study published in arXiv: "If large exomoons form around giant planets in migration that are more stable (for example, those of the solar system), the fate of these moons after migration is still the subject of intensive research.
"This article explores the scenario of large regular exomoonies escaping after the exchange of angular momentum by the tide with its mother planet, thus becoming small planets. We call this type of hypothetical object a ploonet.
However, the same thing could happen to the moon of the Earth.
Mario Sucerquia of the University of Antioquia in Colombia told New Scientist: "The force of the tides of the Earth is gradually moving the moon away from us at a rate of about 3 centimeters a year. Therefore, the moon is effectively a potential planet once it reaches an unstable orbit. "
But when the Moon leaves the Earth, it slows down the planet's rotation, which could have devastating consequences.
The Earth's rotation slows down as our planet uses energy to keep the tide ahead of the Moon's orbit.
Our planet keeps the tide slightly in front of the lunar satellite, which keeps the ecosystem in check and slips the oceans from one continent to the other.
However, to do this, the Earth uses kinetic energy, which is finite.
This means that Earth's orbit slows down slightly because it lacks energy, and the consequences could be catastrophic.
A slower rotating globe causes stronger and more frequent earthquakes – the reason why this is the case is unclear, but experts think it could be due to changes in the Earth's core , which ultimately have an effect on the surface.
The researches of Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana at Missoula have examined earthquakes of magnitude greater than seven since 1900.
The duo discovered, five years after the beginning of the twentieth century, that there had been significantly more earthquakes of 7.0, all years during which the speed of rotation of the Earth had slightly slowed down.
Prof. Bilham said: "During these periods, there were between 25 and 30 intense earthquakes per year.
"The rest of the time, the average figure was about 15 major earthquakes per year.
"The correlation between the Earth's rotation and seismic activity is strong and suggests that there will be an increase in the number of intense earthquakes."