(Gray News) – Scientists have discovered a strange pattern between two of Neptune’s 14 moons.
They’re calling it the “dance of avoidance.”
It’s the first time scientists say they’ve seen this particular orbit pattern anywhere in the solar system.
Researchers say Naiad and Thalassa, the eighth planet’s innermost moons, are orbiting only about 1,150 miles apart. That’s very close in space terms.
They avoid each other through perfectly timed orbits. One of the moons orbits in a zig-zag pattern, passing twice above, then twice below the other moon as it circles Neptune.
“This up, up, down, down pattern repeats every time Naiad gains four laps on Thalassa,” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This repeating pattern is called a resonance.”
Researchers noticed the unique path using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.