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Our Moon Could Escape Earth's Orbit and Become a Ploon

Meet the Ploonets

Our Moon might not always be the dedicated companion to Earth that it is now.

An international team of researchers has proposed a hypothetical new type of world it calls a "ploonet": a former moon that escaped its host planet's orbit and started circling its host star instead

The team thinks ploonets could explain some unusual astronomical phenomena – and that our own moon could join their ranks.

Simulation Game

Hot Jupiters are a class of exoplanets that orbit incredibly close to their host stars. However, some astronomers believe they may actually have formed on the outskirts of their solar systems and migrated inward.

arXiv , the researchers detail their simulations of what might happen to a hot Jupiter started with migration with an exomoon in tone

Based on their simulations, about 48 percent of the exons would detach from their hot Jupiters and start orbiting their stars instead ̵

1; as ploonets

Theory of Some Things

The team believes ploonets could explain some unusual astronomical phenomenon. ploonet a comet-like tail. The passage of such a plane across its star might explain why some stars appear to flicker.

Meanwhile, a ploonet that eventually crashed into its former host could create debris that might explain the strange rings found around some exoplanets.

" Those structures [rings and flickers] have been discovered, "researcher Mario Sucerquia customs Science News . "We just explain a natural mechanism to explain [them]."

Moon Light

Ploonethood could also explain why astronomers have yet to definitively find any exomoons despite predictions that the universe should be with them – the moons may get kicked out of their planets' orbits before we can detect them. If we see the shapes after that point, we might just mistake them for new exoplanets.

Based on the researchers' simulations, they also have incredibly short lifespans, astronomically speaking – roughly 50 percent crash into their star or forms host planet within half a million years, while others meet the same fate after less than a million years of plodthood – which could further explain why we haven't found any.

As for Earth's own moon, Sucerquia customs Science News that it is "a potential plonet" given that it moves about 4 centimeters farther away from Earth every year. But we don't have to worry about it going to be something like that anytime soon – at this rate, it won't break free from Earth's orbit for about 5 billion years.

READ MORE: Moons that escape their planets could become 'ploonets' [ Science News ]

More on the exomoons: Researchers Think They've Discovered the First Moon Outside Our Solar System

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