What Is A Ploonet? But Really?!


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What is a Ploonet?

What if a moon went rogue and acted like a planet? It can happen, astronomers say, and they gave it a LUNATIC name.
Let’s get started…
Imagine an exoplanet, a gas giant orbiting its star while a moon orbits the planet itself. Now suppose the moon turns rogue as it moves nearer to its star, breaking away… or being forced out of its orbit by the planet…. and going off on its own trip, in effect behaving like a planet in its own right. Imagine the Earth without its moon. It might seem like the ultimate "empty nest" syndrome.
After all, in a sense, the moon is the offspring of our planet. Research suggests it formed about 4.5 billion years ago, when a Mars-sized body smashed into Earth and sent a broken chunk into orbit.
They've been together ever since. A family, in a sense.
But the moons of other planets, called exomoons, may eventually leave home. They break free of their parent's orbit. Sometimes, it's the result of their own struggle to be free; sometimes it's their planet's decision to evict them.
These former moons are, rather adorably, referred to as "ploonets."

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