Scientists believe that a small mystery object around Saturn’s outermost ring could potentially be the creation of a new small moon, which they have dubbed “Peggy.”
The potential moon was discovered in images taken by the NASA Cassini spacecraft, reports Forbes. Scientists surmised it must be a small moon because of the gravitational force it is exerting upon Saturn’s A ring.
Queen Mary University of London’s Carl Murray, the lead author, said, “We have not seen anything like this before.” Murray added, “We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Peggy is currently too small for the Cassini to actually see they could only notice the disturbance it created, but there is a chance better photos could be taken in 2016, when the spacecraft is scheduled to fly closer to the A ring.
Peggy’s discovery fits into the belief that Saturn’s 53 moons could have formed similarly and the older ones are further out into orbit, while the younger ones remain close by.
Though there is excitement about the discovery, Forbes notes that Peggy isn’t expected to remain for that long or get any bigger. In fact, it could already be splitting apart NASA notes.