Is Earth capable of supporting more moons like the Moon? Our planet would be pulled out of its path by the forces of gravity.
According to a new study, Earth could support two more Moon-sized moons if they were smaller. Detailed physics simulations cover a period of 3000 years.
Figuring out how Earth formed and finding other Earth-like planets in the wider Universe are two things that could be helped by the research.
The researchers wrote in their paper that the stability of moon systems limits the existence of exomoons in their respective habitable zones.
The simulations were constrained by the distances between the moon and Earth. A careful balance is needed to prevent a moon from going into space.
There are three different moon sizes, one with the mass of our Moon, one with the mass of Pluto, and one with the mass of a dwarf planet.
Earth can support up to three moons the size of our current Moon, up to four smaller moons, and up to seven larger moons, assuming they're all the same size.
"Not all the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have the same size, so we can expect that multiple moons will have different sizes, and to have the absolute answer we would need to include that," said physicist Suman Satyal from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Scientists think that Mercury and Venus don't have any moons because of the different ways in which these planets formed.
If they were of different sizes, Earth and Earth-like worlds in the Universe could support more than seven moons. The current study does not include that or the pull from planets.
Billy Quarles is a physicist from the University of Texas Arlington.
There are a lot of systems with only a single planet candidate. Two exomoon candidates are circling Jupiter-like planets at a distance of roughly 150 million kilometers.
The night sky would have been more interesting with additional moons. They would need to be different sizes in the sky because they would need to be different distances from Earth.
There are many films that show the possibility of exomoons, such as the forest moon Endor from Star Wars.
Future works could appear more accurate, thanks to our study.
The research has been published in a journal.