What Would Happen if Our Moon Had a Moon?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of Earth orbiting the moon in a game and the effects it would have on Earth if the moon had a moon. It is noted that this scenario is not plausible in current physics, but adjustments can be made for the game. It is suggested that a moon-like moon for the moon would have an unstable orbit and would likely be tidally locked. The conversation also mentions the importance of considering the mass and radius of the moon-like moon to ensure stability.
  • #1
lxXTaCoXxl
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This is a question I have been pondering for quite some time. I haven't done much research on the matter but I can't find any theories, hypotheses, or explanations of this matter. So I calculate that the best route to take would be to ask those who know about the topic better than myself. I am a student a Full Sail University and I'm getting a degree in Game Design; knowing that 99% of all games do not use true physical systems, I am wanting to keep my game as realistic as possible. I'm developing a game that takes place in outer space in a parallel universe to our own, where our Earth is instead orbiting our moon. Now I know this doesn't seem practical in any way because the Earth's mass relative to the moon's would not allow it to orbit the moon. This is just a big what if type thing and I have made it work by creating a new Earth with the same size but with less density. My question is, what would happen to the Earth in our present universe if our Earth was to switch places with the moon. What would happen if our moon had a moon 1/8 it's size? 1/4 it's size?

Thanks,
Taco
 
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  • #2
When dealing with two bodies, the orbits of both are around the center of mass. Earth-moon center of mass is well inside the earth, so that having the moon orbiting the Earth makes sense. If the two bodies are about the same size, the center of mass would be about halfway in between. You can work out the cases you are interested in.
 
  • #3
In its orbit, moon accelerates with ~0.0027m/s^2 towards earth. Without precision experiments, you do not notice the orbit at all (even if you stand on the moon) - the other object appears to move around you, unless the rotation is tidally locked (as it is for the moon - if you stand on moon, you always see Earth at a fixed position in the sky).

I am wanting to keep my game as realistic as possible.
In this case, you cannot let Earth orbit the moon. You can adjust masses a bit, to give some more movement of Earth itself, but you would not notice the effect in everyday life.

Earth with a significantly reduced mass would be:
- a big ball of water (reduces mass by a factor of ~4 with the same radius)
- significantly smaller

My question is, what would happen to the Earth in our present universe if our Earth was to switch places with the moon.
This does not work. Can you describe which visual effects you want to get? Maybe there is a physical solution.
 
  • #4
Well I was more of wanting to know the effects on Earth if our moon had a moon about 1/8 it's size, or to go a little bigger; to be about 1/4 it's size. It's an interesting notion to me. As far as the Earth orbiting the moon, I realize that the theory is not even plausible in current physics however, it sounded like a good idea for my game so I made adjustments to make it work. Granted it's not true physics that powers it because the math doesn't allow it. So what would the Earth be like if our moon had a moon? I would like to create a possible scenario to suit this theory for my game.

Thanks,
Taco
 
  • #5
A body of that mass would have an unstable orbit due to Earth gravity.
 
  • #6
Moon's Lagrange points are ~60000 km away from moon. Stable orbits around the moon have to be smaller, with ~20000km radius as maximum for long-term stability. At the lower side, we have the Roche limit - for a moon-like moon of moon, this is ~2.5 times the radius of moon or ~4300km

Somewhere between those values, moons are possible, I would keep away from the limits to be safe. 1/4 of its size corresponds to 1/64 of its mass, the influence on our tides and so on would be negligible. It would probably be tidally locked to moon: it would always show the same side for moon, similar to our own moon, where we can see one side only.
 
  • #7
One body does NOT orbit around another, they both orbit around their mutual center of mass. That's perfectly symmetric. If you are going to have a body of large mass "orbiting" an object of lower mass, you will need to replace some very basic physics laws.
 

What if our moon had a moon?

The idea of our moon having a moon, also known as a "moonmoon" or "submoon", has been a topic of scientific speculation and debate. Here are five commonly asked questions about this hypothetical scenario:

1. What would the moonmoon look like?

It is difficult to predict the exact appearance of a moonmoon, as it would depend on its size, distance from the moon, and composition. However, it would likely appear as a smaller, dimmer object in our night sky.

2. How would the moonmoon affect our tides?

The moonmoon's gravitational pull on the moon would be much weaker than the moon's pull on Earth, so it would have a minimal effect on our tides. However, it could potentially cause some small changes in the moon's orbit.

3. Could the moonmoon have its own moon?

It is possible that the moonmoon could have a satellite of its own, but this would depend on its size and distance from the moon. It is also possible that the moonmoon could eventually become a satellite of Earth if it gets too close to our planet.

4. Would a moonmoon have any impact on Earth's climate or environment?

Since the moonmoon would have a small influence on the moon's orbit, it could potentially have some minor effects on Earth's climate. However, these effects would likely be negligible compared to other factors such as solar radiation and greenhouse gases.

5. How likely is it that our moon could have a moon?

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that our moon has a moon, and the conditions for a moonmoon to form would be very rare. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that our moon has a moon or will ever have one.

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