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Space & Astronomy

Two 'moonlets' found in orbit around Uranus

By T.K. Randall
October 18, 2016 · Comment icon 5 comments

Not a lot is known about the enigmatic gas giant Uranus. Image Credit: NASA
30-year-old data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft has revealed the presence of two hidden moons.
Despite the fact that it has been over three decades since Voyager 2 swept past Uranus on its historic journey through the solar system, scientists studying the data that it collected are still managing to make new discoveries about the planet and its army of small moons.

The third largest world in our solar system, Uranus is a gas giant planet located far out beyond the orbit of Saturn. It has 27 moons and even has its own ring system, albeit a rather faint one.

Now two scientists from the University of Idaho's Moscow campus who have been studying the original Voyager 2 data believe that they have identified distinctive wavy patterns in two of these rings which indicate the presence of two additional dark-colored moons orbiting nearby.
"These patterns may be wakes from small moonlets orbiting exterior to these rings," the pair, Rob Chancia and Matthew Hedman, wrote in a research paper detailing the discovery.

"Not only are Uranus' rings dark, so are most of the little satellites that are in that region."

While the discovery of the two new moons has yet to be confirmed, it is hoped that the Hubble Space Telescope will be able to pick them up during observations of Uranus in the near future.

Source: Independent | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
Hopefully a great find.  Good old V'ger! I hope "Moonlets" doesn't stick. We need to find politically correct ways to name these smaller than normal cestrial objects  before a law suit happens.  Though it would be ludicrous, stranger things have happened in US courts.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
There is already a system to name these moons. All moons of Uranus are named after characters from the plays of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. It has nothing to do with the US courts. Naming of celestial bodies is the domain of the International Astronomical Union. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by White Unicorn 8 years ago
Isn't it a theory of moon creation, that the rings around a gaseous planet coglulate materials to form moonlets? It would be an ongoing process.
Comment icon #4 Posted by aquatus1 8 years ago
**Posters are reminded to keep posts on topic.**
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
Sorry - Just trying to explain my point  

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