Scientists Confirm Existence Of Two Dust Moons Around Earth

Posted: Oct 28 2018, 5:29pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 28 2018, 11:57pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Confirm Existence of Two Dust Moons Around Earth
Credit: J. Slíz-Balogh

The two elusive clouds of dust exist in semi-stable points in Earth-Moon system.

Researchers have proven the existence of two elusive clouds of dust located 400,000 kilometers from Earth. The dust clouds were first reported by the Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961 and thought to have existed in L4 and L5 Lagrange points of the Earth–Moon system. But the nature and presence of these clouds remained controversial because they are exceptionally faint and hard to detect from Earth.

The Earth-Moon system has five Lagrange Points or positions where the gravity of two objects creates a stable location for a third object. Three Lagrange Points L1, L2, and L3 sit along a straight line that goes through the Earth and Sun but they are unstable. The remaining L4 and L5 Lagrangian points create an equal-sided triangle with the Earth and Moon and are relatively stable, making them popular targets for telescope observations.

In 1961, Kordylewski was able to observe two clusters of dust at L5 Lagrange Point. However, Japanese Hiten spacecraft did not find an obvious increase in dust particles when it passed through L4 and L5 in 1991. In short, some researchers were able to detect the elusive Kordylewski clouds over the years, while others failed to find them.

Recently, a team of Hungarian researchers, led by Gábor Horváth of Eötvös Loránd University, modeled the Kordylewski clouds to assess how they form and how they might be detected. They decided to use polarizing filters as a method to detect Kordylewski clouds because these filters transmit light with a particular direction of oscillation, similar to those found on some types of sunglasses.

Researchers attached a linearly polarizing filter system to a camera lens and CCD detector at Slíz-Balogh's private observatory in Hungary (Badacsonytördemic) and gazed at the possible location of the Kordylewski cloud at L5 point. Observations showed that polarized light reflected from dust extended well outside the field of view of the camera lens, which is consistent with the earliest observations of the Kordylewski clouds six decades ago. These results confirm the presence of dust “moons” near Earth.

“The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy,” said researcher Judit Slíz-Balogh. “It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbour.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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