A Galactic Merger of Equals


  1. Neptune's new moon! Welcome to the family <3
  2. A galactic merger of equals
  3. First in space - Happy birthday Yuri Gagarin!

Current events

Using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have confirmed a new moon around Neptune, now officially named Hippocamp after the Greek mythological sea monster with a fish’s tail and a horse’s body. To date, Voyager 2 is the only probe to have visited Neptune back in 1989, but Hippocamp was so tiny (only 21 miles wide, vs. our Moon at 2,000+ miles) and faint that Voyager completely missed it! Since it orbits closely to another larger moon, Proteus, scientists think Hippocamp may have broken off Proteus billions of years ago. 
Artist's impression of Hippocamp

Today I learned

The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is Andromeda, at 2.5 million light-years away. Did you know that the two galaxies will collide in 4.5 billion years and merge into one huge elliptical galaxy? As an investment banker, the largest merger I can fathom is $165 billion, the infamously catastrophic AOL-Time Warner deal. Good luck integrating 1.5 trillion star systems!!!!! 

And if apocalyptic visions of absolute cosmic mayhem are popping into your mind, with stars and planets exploding in fiery collisions everywhere you look, take heart. Recall that most of space is just that – empty space. The likelihood that our Solar System hits anything is next to nothing, and we’ll all be long gone regardless. But just in case you’re still around, this is the gorgeous night sky view you’d be treated to
Artist's impression of the night sky from Earth during the Milky Way-Andromeda collision

This day in space history

I’m pulling this one a day forward - on March 9, 1934, Yuri Gagarin was born. Gagarin was the first human in space, soaring into orbit in 1961 on his Vostok rocket and besting the Americans in the first step of the Space Race. In researching this, I myself learned a few interesting facts about humanity’s first astronaut: 1) Gagarin was incredibly short, only 5’2’’, making him perfect for the tiny Vostok cockpit, and 2) Gagarin was an avid basketball fan. Since I’m a huge San Antonio Spurs fan, maybe if Gagarin were alive today, we’d have two things to bond over – spaceflight and basketball! Sadly he died in a jet crash in 1968


  1. Replies
    1. Haha I agree, but most celestial bodies have nice names. They're always something from mythology

  2. Can something thats only 21 miles wide be considered a moon?

    1. It's funny, there isn't any formal definition of a moon (astronomers only formally defined a planet in 2006!). But there are other even smaller moons - one of Mars' moons, Deimos, is only 7 miles wide