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Little Dumbbell Nebula M76 m76 the little dumbbell nebula M76 Dumbbell Little Nebula
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Little Dumbbell Nebula M76

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Interesting thoughts!

In September 2015, a new study provided an important missing piece to the intriguing puzzle of how our Moon came to be the lovely object that we see today.



The discovery of Makemake's little moon increases the parallels between Pluto and Makemake. This is because both of the small icy worlds are already known to be well-coated in a frozen shell of methane. Furthermore, additional observations of the little moon will readily reveal the density of Makemake--an important result that will indicate if the bulk compositions of Pluto and Makemake are similar. "This new discovery opens a new chapter in comparative planetology in the outer Solar System," Dr. Marc Buie commented in the April 26, 2016 Hubble Press Release. Dr. Buie, the team leader, is also of the Southwest Research Institute.



With the GRAIL data, the astronomers were able to map the gravity field both in and around over 1,200 craters on the lunar far side. This region--the lunar highlands--is our Moon's most heavily cratered, and therefore oldest, terrain. Heavily cratered surfaces are older than smoother surfaces that are bereft of craters. This is because smooth surfaces indicate that more recent resurfacing has occurred, erasing the older scars of impact craters.

The astronomers observed this effect in the upper layer of the lunar crust, termed the megaregolith. This layer is heavily pockmarked by relatively small craters, measuring only 30 kilometers or less in diameter. In contrast, the deeper layers of lunar crust, that are scarred by larger craters, appear not to have been as badly battered, and are, therefore, less porous and fractured.



Dr. Sotin and Dr. Vance are both members of the Icy Worlds team at JPL, which is part of the multi-institutional NASA Astrobiology Institute based at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.



Indeed, the mixture of nitrogen and methane that whirl around in Titan's swirling thick golden-orange atmosphere create a variety of organic compounds. It has been suggested that the heaviest materials float down to the surface of this hydrocarbon-slashed moon. When these organic compounds tumble down into Titan's lakes and seas--either by raining down from the clouds in alien showers of hydrocarbons, or by traveling along with Titan's strange rivers--some are dissolved in the liquid methane. The compounds that manage to survive this ordeal, and do not dissolve (such as nitrites and benzene), float down to the alien sea floors of this oddball moon-world.

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