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Hubble Discovers 5th Moon Orbiting Pluto [merged]

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Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

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This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7. The observations will help scientists in their planning for the July 2015 flyby of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. P4 was uncovered in Hubble imagery in 2011. (Credit: NASA; ESA; M. Showalter, SETI Institute)

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“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.

The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago.

The new detection will help scientists navigate NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world.

The team is using Hubble’s powerful vision to scour the Pluto system to uncover potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft. Moving past the dwarf planet at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour, New Horizons could be destroyed in a collision with even a BB-shot-size piece of orbital debris.

“The discovery of so many small moons indirectly tells us that there must be lots of small particles lurking unseen in the Pluto system,” said Harold Weaver of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

“The inventory of the Pluto system we're taking now with Hubble will help the New Horizons team design a safer trajectory for the spacecraft,” added Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., the mission’s principal investigator.

Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978 in observations made at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Hubble observations in 2006 uncovered two additional small moons, Nix and Hydra. In 2011 another moon, P4, was found in Hubble data.

Provisionally designated S/2012 (134340) 1, the latest moon was detected in nine separate sets of images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 26, 27, 29, and July 7 and 9.

In the years following the New Horizons Pluto flyby, astronomers plan to use the infrared vision of Hubble’s planned successor, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, for follow-up observations. The Webb telescope will be able to measure the surface chemistry of Pluto, its moons, and many other bodies that lie in the distant Kuiper Belt along with Pluto.

The Pluto Team members are M. Showalter (SETI Institute), H.A. Weaver (Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University), and S.A. Stern, A.J. Steffl, and M.W. Buie (Southwest Research Institute).

The Hubble Space Telescope 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, D.C.

For images and more information about the Pluto system and the Hubble telescope, visit:

arrow3.gifSource

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Well then, I vote that Pluto be reinstated as a planet.

Not that world opinion counts in these cases I guess.

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Well then, I vote that Pluto be reinstated as a planet.

Having moons is an extraordinarily poor reason for calling for the reinstatement of Pluto as a planet. Many asteroids have moons, Mercury and Venus do not.

Not that world opinion counts in these cases I guess.

Science is not, and never will be a democracy, it is driven by evidence and logic, not by popular opinion. Fact and logic do not respect majority rule, they simply are what they are.

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Then how do you explain the fact that Pluto's was counted as a planet prior to 2010(?). Was it just opinion/majority rule? Is it because our understanding of what classifies a body as being rated as a planet has evolved?

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My opinion on Pluto's status (for what it's worth - I know - not worth anything) is that it should be considered a full planet...

Anyway...

I think they should name P4 as Styx and P5 as Elysium... (or since it's a 'dwarf' planet) P4 as Sneezy and P5 as Grumpy

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The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a fifth moon circling the dwarf planet Pluto.

The new moon, visible as a speck of light in Hubble images, is estimated to be irregular in shape and between 10km and 25km across.

Scientists are intrigued that such a small world can have such a complex collection of satellites.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-18803212

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Then how do you explain the fact that Pluto's was counted as a planet prior to 2010(?). Was it just opinion/majority rule? Is it because our understanding of what classifies a body as being rated as a planet has evolved?

Pluto has not been classified as a planet since 2006.

I explain the change by saying that logic was applied when more facts came to light.

Pluto was originally believed to be a body orbiting alone. With the discovery that it was just one tiny body in a belt of thousands of other tiny bodies it became obvious to most astronomers that it could no more be considered a true planet than could the objects in the asteroid belt. Indeed Pluto can not even claim to be the most massive known object in the Kuiper Belt, Eris has that honour, and I don't see people clambering to claim that is a true planet.

This is not without precedent. When Ceres was discovered in 1801 it was considered a planet. When it was found to be just one object in the asteroid belt it was down-graded to being just one asteroid among many. Ceres was reclassified a Dwarf Planet at the same time as Pluto.

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Posted (edited)

Pluto has not been classified as a planet since 2006.

I explain the change by saying that logic was applied when more facts came to light.

Pluto was originally believed to be a body orbiting alone. With the discovery that it was just one tiny body in a belt of thousands of other tiny bodies it became obvious to most astronomers that it could no more be considered a true planet than could the objects in the asteroid belt. Indeed Pluto can not even claim to be the most massive known object in the Kuiper Belt, Eris has that honour, and I don't see people clambering to claim that is a true planet.

This is not without precedent. When Ceres was discovered in 1801 it was considered a planet. When it was found to be just one object in the asteroid belt it was down-graded to being just one asteroid among many. Ceres was reclassified a Dwarf Planet at the same time as Pluto.

It was always my opinion that someting that far out and with an orbit so far off of the plane of the rest of the solar system that it was a stretch to be classifying it as a planet.

What do you think of the theory that it was at one time part of a larger body orbiting where we now have the asteriod belt (theoritical planet called minerva) and is orbiting so far off the plane do to a massive colision?

Edited by OverSword
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What do you think of the theory that it was at one time part of a larger body orbiting where we now have the asteriod belt (theoritical planet called minerva) and is orbiting so far off the plane do to a massive colision?

I think it's more likely that the gravitational pull of Jupiter prevented any planet formation in the asteroid belt in the first place. Aside from that, most estimates put the mass of the asteroid belt at around 1/1000 that of earth. Even if it did form a planet, it would super small. Around 1400km in diameter, if I recall correctly.

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I think it's more likely that the gravitational pull of Jupiter prevented any planet formation in the asteroid belt in the first place. Aside from that, most estimates put the mass of the asteroid belt at around 1/1000 that of earth. Even if it did form a planet, it would super small. Around 1400km in diameter, if I recall correctly.

That would be the mass of the asteroid belt minus pluto and it's moons.

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That would be the mass of the asteroid belt minus pluto and it's moons.

That's true. Pluto's mass is about 1/500th of Earth. I guess if you suppose that it was the core of the supposed planet.... but Pluto is comprised mostly of rock and frozen methane (we think)

I still think it's a bit of a stretch. It's most likely a Kuiper Belt object along with Sedna, Eris, Makemake an Huamea. All with highly unusual orbits.

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Actually I am surprised because I thought Pluto only had one moon which is Chiron and now I discover it had more. Huh, go figure.

However, if I may interject a thought, however wrong it is....is it possible that planet formation in our system is not complete yet?

We think all the planets are done forming, which may be true but what of the very outer planets?

When I was reading a bit of the solar system and heard of the Kuiper Belt and how the planet Pluto resides in there I began to wonder if Pluto is still in the process of forming. After all planet formation takes quite a long time so why shouldn't it be possible that our system is not done yet?

Considering that astronomy is still discovering new things within our first four planets and not much is known of the others really so maybe our understanding of planetary formation is not as deep as we think.

I don't know, just musing.

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Having moons is an extraordinarily poor reason for calling for the reinstatement of Pluto as a planet. Many asteroids have moons, Mercury and Venus do not.

Science is not, and never will be a democracy, it is driven by evidence and logic, not by popular opinion. Fact and logic do not respect majority rule, they simply are what they are.

Pfffft...people's words can sometimes be tongue in cheek, you do know that, don't you hon?

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Pfffft...people's words can sometimes be tongue in cheek, you do know that, don't you hon?

And some people prefer to make serious worthwhile contributions in a serious scientific thread rather than make pointless off topic posts . You do know that don't you?

Well maybe not.

I'm sure that if palladin dislikes what I had to say they will let me know, rather than have someone else fights their battles for them.

Now shall we get back on topic?

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Posted (edited)

I only found this out today. Interesting and with its timing too. I dreamt on the 6th of July that I flew out past Pluto, so its nice timing to read they took this photo on the 7th and found this new moon.

I hope they give it a good name. ^_^ ..

Here's a link to the dream if anyone's interested. It's the last one I posted. http://www.unexplain...ic=74640&st=720

Edited by Kazahel

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Never mind Pluto! I'm not a planet either. :(

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pretty cool!

thanks for sharing OP.

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Never mind Pluto! I'm not a planet either. :(

Unless I go on a diet soon I might be.

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Unless I go on a diet soon I might be.

LOL, Could be useful? Feeling peckish? Just pluck a donut out of orbit!

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tat moon is small enough to be an asteroid

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Old Pluto and all it's little moons eh? The little dark-horse of the solar system. Good on it, lol.

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Since Pluto is no longer considered the 9th planet in our solar system because of it's size, Does that mean a Chihuahua is no longer a dog because it's smaller then a Great Dane or other dog breeds bigger then it? LOL

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Since Pluto is no longer considered the 9th planet in our solar system because of it's size, Does that mean a Chihuahua is no longer a dog because it's smaller then a Great Dane or other dog breeds bigger then it? LOL

Pluto has not lost it's planetary status because of it's size. It lost it because it

has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit

All the true planets dominate their orbits. They have swept clear, or captured as satellites, almost all the material that shared their orbit. Pluto has not done this, it is just one Kuiper Belt Object amongst thousands. If it had cleared it's orbit it would still be a planet as it fulfills the other requirements. The IAU definitions of a planet and a dwarf planet are as follows:

(1) A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (B) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and © has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (B) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape [2], © has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects [3] orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

Source: Wikipedia

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Having moons is an extraordinarily poor reason for calling for the reinstatement of Pluto as a planet. Many asteroids have moons, Mercury and Venus do not.

Errr ... Phobos & Deimos? While they may well be captured asteroids, they still are Mars' moons.

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Errr ... Phobos & Deimos? While they may well be captured asteroids, they still are Mars' moons.

And your point is?

I didn't mention Mars. Mercury & Venus still have no natural satellites. My point still remains valid.

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