The Hungarian astronomers and physicists have confirmed the existence of two big clouds of interplanetary dust that orbit the Earth at the same distance as the moon. They have confirmed a long-standing astronomical speculation that the Earth has three natural satellites or moons, not one.
In 1961, Kazimierz Kordylewski, a Polish scientist had observed these moons for the first time and they were later named after him as Kordylewski Dust Clouds (KDCs). But their existence has been questioned by astronomers for the past six decades and not many accurate models or simulations of these objects are available.
The Hungarian scientists led by Horváth, have used special filters on their cameras which polarise incoming light to catch hold of and study the scattered light from the dust particles inside these moons. They have established that the KDCs are spread across an expanse of 1,00,000 km by 70,000 km in space. This is equivalent to 30 by 20 lunar disks.
According to the scientists the new moons are entirely made up of extremely tiny dust particles less than one millimetre size and reflect light rather faintly, and that is the reason why they are difficult to observe and study in the first place even when they are located at around the same distance as the Moon from the Earth – 400,000 kilometres.
The research work was published in the Royal Astronomical Society.