Sodium tail of the Moon

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The Moon has been shown to have a "tail" of sodium atoms too faint to be detected by the human eye. Hundreds of thousands of kilometers long, the feature was discovered in 1998 as a result of scientists from Boston University observing the Leonid meteor shower.[1][2]

The Moon is constantly releasing atomic sodium as a fine dust from its surface due to photon-stimulated desorption, solar wind sputtering, and meteorite impacts.[3] Solar radiation pressure accelerates the sodium atoms away from the Sun, forming an elongated tail toward the antisolar direction.

The continual impacts of small meteorites produce a constant "tail" from the Moon, but the Leonids intensified it,[4] thus making it more observable from Earth than usual.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Astronomers discover that moon has long, comet-like tail". CNN. 1999-06-07. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  2. ^ "The Sodium Tail of the Moon". NASA. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2017-10-20
  3. ^ "The Sodium Tail of the Moon". NASA. December 1, 2009 – via ScienceDirect.
  4. ^ "Lunar Leonids 2000". NASA. 2000-11-17. Archived from the original on 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  5. ^ "Moon's tail spotted". BBC. 1999-06-09. Retrieved 2009-11-15.