Moons of dust? Scientists detect two clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth


Two clouds of dust
By No machine readable author provided. Assumed Vulpecula (on the basis of copyright claims). [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A team of Hungarian scientists has discovered two clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth and has now proposed the existence of a dust moon. This is not the first time this term is mentioned. Scientists have been discussing and theorizing about the existence of dust moons for about 60 years, but ultimately the theory seems to be starting to make sense.

The team of scientists published its findings in the Monthly Notices from the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). They discovered two clouds of dust about 250,000 miles from Earth. This places them at about the same distance as the Moon, the only natural satellite on the planet.

Scientists believe that the two clouds of dust are located in areas of gravitational stability, called Lagrange points L4 and L5, which are caused by the gravity of the Earth and the Moon. The points move around the Earth like lunar orbits, creating a triangle. Dust clouds "advance in front of and behind the moon in orbit," EarthSky explained.

The Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski first spotted traces of dust at L5 in 1961. However, because they were weak, the clouds offered no solid evidence to Kordylewski.

To prove their findings, the team of scientists who drafted the recent paper used a private observatory owned by the study's co-author, Judit Sliz-Balogh, in Badacsonytördemic, Hungary. They took long exposures of L5, demonstrating that the light reflected the dust.

Their observations were compared to a prediction made by researchers in an older article and to Kordylewski's observations. Focusing on the explanation of the two dust clouds, the team also eliminated terrestrial interference from the list of possible reasons.

"Kordylewski's clouds are two of the most difficult objects to find, and although they are as close to Earth as the moon, they are largely ignored by astronomers," Sliz-Balogh said. a statement. "It's intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."

However, it has not been proven. Scientists have noted that the two clouds of dust may just pass, which means they do not understand why they got stuck in the L4 or L5 positions, because other attempts to discover the dusty moons have not been so successful.

"The KDC [Kordylewski dust clouds] can be a spike [short-lived] phenomenon, "writes the team in its article. "[T]The probability of dust particles being trapped is random because of the occasional entry of particles and their accidental velocity vectors. As a result, the structure and the particle density of the KDC are not constant. "

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the discovery is less interesting. If evidence emerges, it means that there are many more things around our planet than we currently know. The team also suggested that future missions be conducted to sample the dust found in these areas. In addition, scientists could learn from dust to build a spacecraft that will not hit the dust floating around our planet.

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