Meet the newest known moon of Neptune
The wee world, named after a mythical sea creature, has a surprisingly brutal past.
For billions of years, a small moon orbiting the ice giant Neptune hid amid the dusky starlight. Now, the minuscule world has a name—and scientists are beginning to piece together its violent history.
“It was just incredibly difficult to detect,” says the SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter, who first spotted the moon in 2013 and describes it today in the journal Nature. The newly described satellite brings Neptune’s clutch of known orbital companions up to 14. A diver, Showalter named the tiny moon Hippocamp after the mythological beast that gave rise to the genus name of one of his favorite aquatic creatures: seahorses.
“When it came time to pick a name out of Greek and Roman mythologies