February 26, 2024

We Asked a NASA Scientist: Where Do Moons Come From?

Artists impression of the Moon-forming event. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech/T. Pyle
Where do moons originate from?
Our Moon, for example, we think formed in a cataclysmic impact in between the early Earth and a Mars-sized world. And over time, thousands of years, the moonlets would come together and form our Moon that we see today.
On the other hand, the Galilean moons of Jupiter are thought to have formed from a giant disk of particles that Jupiter pulled in from the gas and dust that orbited the Sun in the early history of the solar system. The product in that disk would likewise form those very same moonlets that ultimately came together to comprise the four biggest moons of Jupiter, IO, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Where do moons originate from? From cataclysmic effects to gravitational capture, NASA planetary researcher Joe Renaud walks us through some of the many theories of how the unique and captivating moons in our solar system came to be. Credit: NASA
For the last common method moons are believed to originate, we have to look at Neptunes largest moon, Triton. This moon has a very unusual orbit, which led us to assume that it was actually a dwarf planet from the Kuiper Belt, much like Pluto. One day it got too near to Neptune and was recorded by Neptunes gravity.
So where do moons originate from? Well, we still have a great deal of questions that are unanswered, but with the next generation of researchers and cutting edge objectives, we hope to have the ability to address the secrets of the origins of the moons in our solar system.

And over time, thousands of years, the moonlets would come together and form our Moon that we see today.
From cataclysmic impacts to gravitational capture, NASA planetary scientist Joe Renaud strolls us through some of the many theories of how the special and captivating moons in our solar system came to be. For the last common way moons are thought to come from, we have to look at Neptunes largest moon, Triton.