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NASA's Hubble Discovers Another Moon Around Pluto
http://www.newswise.com ^ | 7/20/2011 9:00 AM EDT | Staff

Posted on 07/20/2011 8:14:18 AM PDT by Red Badger

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite -- temporarily designated P4 -- was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet.

The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km).

"I find it remarkable that Hubble's cameras enabled us to see such a tiny object so clearly from a distance of more than 3 billion miles (5 billion km)," said Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who led this observing program with Hubble.

The finding is a result of ongoing work to support NASA's New Horizons mission, scheduled to fly through the Pluto system in 2015. The mission is designed to provide new insights about worlds at the edge of our solar system. Hubble's mapping of Pluto's surface and discovery of its satellites have been invaluable to planning for New Horizons' close encounter.

"This is a fantastic discovery," said New Horizons' principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "Now that we knoW there's another moon in the Pluto system, we can plan close-up observations of it during our flyby."

The new moon is located between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, which Hubble discovered in 2005. Charon was discovered in 1978 at the U.S. Naval Observatory and first resolved using Hubble in 1990 as a separate body from Pluto.

The dwarf planet's entire moon system is believed to have formed by a collision between Pluto and another planet-sized body early in the history of the solar system. The smashup flung material that coalesced into the family of satellites observed around Pluto.

Lunar rocks returned to Earth from the Apollo missions led to the theory that our moon was the result of a similar collision between Earth and a Mars-sized body 4.4 billion years ago. Scientists believe material blasted off Pluto's moons by micrometeoroid impacts may form rings around the dwarf planet, but the Hubble photographs have not detected any so far.

"This surprising observation is a powerful reminder of Hubble's ability as a general purpose astronomical observatory to make astounding, unintended discoveries," said Jon Morse, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

P4 was first seen in a photo taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on June 28. It was confirmed in subsequent Hubble pictures taken on July 3 and July 18. The moon was not seen in earlier Hubble images because the exposure times were shorter. There is a chance it appeared as a very faint smudge in 2006 images, but was overlooked because it was obscured.

Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. in Washington.

For images and more information about Hubble, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble and http://hubblesite.org/news/2011/23


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: astronomy; moonoverpluto; p4; p5; planetshavemoons; pluto; plutoalwaysaplanet; space; xplanets

PLUTO'S MOON SYSTEM These two images, taken about a week apart by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, show four moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle in both snapshots marks the newly discovered moon, temporarily dubbed P4, found by Hubble in June. P4 is the smallest moon yet found around Pluto, with an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Pluto's largest moon Charon is 648 miles (1,043 km) across. Nix and Hydra are roughly 20 to 70 miles (32 to 113 km) wide. The new moon lies between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, two satellites discovered by Hubble in 2005. It completes an orbit around Pluto roughly every 31 days. The moon was first seen in a photo taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on June 28, 2011. The sighting was confirmed in follow-up Hubble observations taken July 3 and July 18. P4, Nix, and Hydra are so small and so faint that scientists combined short and long exposures to create this image of Pluto and its entire moon system. The speckled background is camera "noise" produced during the long exposures. The linear features are imaging artifacts. The tiny satellite was uncovered in a Hubble survey to search for rings around the frigid dwarf planet. The observations will help NASA's New Horizons mission, scheduled to fly through the Pluto system in 2015.

1 posted on 07/20/2011 8:14:22 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: SunkenCiv; KevinDavis

Space Ping!.............


2 posted on 07/20/2011 8:14:58 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

8 mile diameter? You could hold a marathon around it.


3 posted on 07/20/2011 8:22:01 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: Red Badger

How can this non-planet have a moon, none the less four?!


4 posted on 07/20/2011 8:23:18 AM PDT by edge10 (Obama lied, babies died!)
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To: Red Badger

Doesn’t matter, it’s not a planet remember? Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along.


5 posted on 07/20/2011 8:23:44 AM PDT by Peter from Rutland
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To: Red Badger

They also discovered another moon around Uranus.


6 posted on 07/20/2011 8:24:32 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Larry Lucido
"8 mile diameter? You could hold a marathon around it."

Just think about the length of each step. I wonder what EV is?

7 posted on 07/20/2011 8:26:25 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: Red Badger

I move to reinstate Pluto to the rank of the planet!


8 posted on 07/20/2011 8:26:26 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: dfwgator

Planet advocates smell blood in the water.


9 posted on 07/20/2011 8:26:58 AM PDT by ZX12R
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To: Red Badger

Anybody remember “The Little Prince” TV show? 8 to 21 miles in diameter isn’t much. Perhaps there’s a little French boy there gardening his rose and tending to the volcanoes?


10 posted on 07/20/2011 8:27:02 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: Larry Lucido

P4 needs a name. Maybe “Flea”? I saw several cartoons in which Pluto had fleas.


11 posted on 07/20/2011 8:27:04 AM PDT by Pecos (Constitutionalist. Liberty and Honor will not die on my watch.)
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To: Pecos

Scratch that...............


12 posted on 07/20/2011 8:29:23 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: dfwgator
They also discovered another moon around Uranus.

I'm seeing a doctor about that... :0)

13 posted on 07/20/2011 8:33:04 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
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To: Red Badger

At least it’s not a spot around Uranus : )


14 posted on 07/20/2011 8:33:55 AM PDT by Fractal Trader
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To: Pecos
P4 needs a name. Maybe “Flea”?

I think he'd be honored!


15 posted on 07/20/2011 8:35:13 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
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To: Fractal Trader

"I have sent a communication to NASA that the moon shall be named OBAMA, unless they want their funding cut even further..."
16 posted on 07/20/2011 8:36:23 AM PDT by BigEdLB (Now there ARE 1,000,000 regrets - but it may be too late.)
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To: rarestia

I always wondered how he didn’t manage to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere riding a meteorite using nothing but a butterfly net.

But then again they likely didn’t have the budget to hire a NASA consultant. :^P


17 posted on 07/20/2011 8:44:01 AM PDT by VanDeKoik (1 million in stimulus dollars paid for this tagline!)
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To: All

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18 posted on 07/20/2011 8:48:05 AM PDT by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis (Want to make $$$? It's easy! Use FR as a platform to pimp your blog for hits!!!)
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To: VanDeKoik

One of those high-tensile carbon fiber butterfly nets, I’d guess.


19 posted on 07/20/2011 8:48:43 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: COBOL2Java
I'm seeing a doctor about that... :0)

"Not only do ju have rings around ur anus, but ju also have a giant red spot on ju piter."

20 posted on 07/20/2011 8:55:44 AM PDT by Maceman (Obama: As American as nasei goreng)
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To: Red Badger

Cerberus?


21 posted on 07/20/2011 8:56:15 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: Maceman

LOL!


22 posted on 07/20/2011 8:58:00 AM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: Straight Vermonter

Good choice!...............


23 posted on 07/20/2011 8:58:39 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

24 posted on 07/20/2011 9:31:03 AM PDT by Mannaggia l'America
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To: Red Badger

I say we name it Goofy.


25 posted on 07/20/2011 9:32:06 AM PDT by NonValueAdded (From her lips to the voters' ears: Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "We own the economy" June 15, 2011)
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To: dfwgator; Red Badger
****They also discovered another moon around Uranus.***

Ohh let me guess! They named it...HEMEROID!

26 posted on 07/20/2011 9:36:58 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Click my name. See my home page, if you dare! NEW PHOTOS!)
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To: Maceman

Oh, my....but that is a good one.


27 posted on 07/20/2011 9:56:06 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Red Badger

Why do other planets get to have multiple moons but we only have one? It isn’t fair! I am for moon redistribution! I must send an urgent letter to Sheila Jackson Lee so she can sponsor a bill. (and watch the hilarity begin)


28 posted on 07/20/2011 10:07:54 AM PDT by Boiling point (Cain / Palin 2012)
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To: Boiling point

We should be thankful we have a moon at all!............... If it weren’t for our Moon, we might not be here!...........


29 posted on 07/20/2011 10:24:34 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

P4? Having three moons and denying planetary status is one thing, but 4 moons! It is just wrong to deny Pluto a return to planetary status.

And “P4”? Not very romantic. How about Persephone, queen of the underworld in Greek mythology, and the original name proposed for Pluto’s moon Charon.


30 posted on 07/20/2011 10:29:28 AM PDT by 6SJ7 (atlasShruggedInd = TRUE)
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To: 6SJ7

Another good choice!.........


31 posted on 07/20/2011 10:32:19 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

32 posted on 07/20/2011 10:33:43 AM PDT by lonevoice (Life is short. Make fun of it.)
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To: Red Badger; KevinDavis; annie laurie; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...

Thanks Red Badger! I sure am glad Pluto's still a planet.
 
X-Planets
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic · subscribe ·
Google news searches: exoplanet · exosolar · extrasolar ·

33 posted on 07/20/2011 4:24:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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How big is Pluto?
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/11/how-big-is-pluto-anyway.html

So is Pluto a planet after all? (he sez no)
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/11/so-is-pluto-planet-after-all.html

The seven planets
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/12/seven-planets.html

There is something out there — parts 1, 2, 3
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/10/there-is-something-out-there.html
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/10/theres-something-out-there-part-2.html
http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/2010/11/theres-something-out-there-part-3.html

http://www.mikebrownsplanets.com/


34 posted on 07/20/2011 4:33:49 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To Pluto -- And Far Beyond "To Pluto And Far Beyond" By David H. Levy, Parade, January 15, 2006 -- We don't have a dictionary definition yet that includes all the contingencies. In the wake of the new discovery, however, the International Astronomical Union has set up a group to develop a workable definition of planet. For our part, in consultation with several experienced planetary astronomers, Parade offers this definition: A planet is a body large enough that, when it formed, it condensed under its own gravity to be shaped like a sphere. It orbits a star directly and is not a moon of another planet.

35 posted on 07/20/2011 4:42:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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