Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hubble finds new moon orbiting Pluto

Mark Showalter (SETI Institute) just discovered a fourth moon orbiting Pluto, designated P4 for now. It is quite small, about 15 miles across, and its orbit resides between satellites Nix and Hydra. This discovery was quite accidental, because Showalter was observing the Pluto system to look for signs of any planetary rings there; see the Hubble website for more details. Since Pluto seems ripe with satellites, we might expect the New Horizons spacecraft, which flies by Pluto in 2015, to find even more tiny satellites.

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