Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered Pluto’s fifth moon, a little more than three years before a NASA space probe is due to sail past the dwarf planet and its tribe of satellites.
This photo from the Hubble Space Telescope shows Pluto and its five known moons, including a newly discovered satellite indicated as P5. Its provisional name is S/2012 (134340) 1. M. Showalter / SETI Institute / NASA / ESA
The irregular moon, estimated to be 6 to 15 miles (10 to 25 kilometers) across, was found in the course of checking out the potential collision hazards facing NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft for the Bastille Day flyby on July 14, 2015. "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," the mission’s principal investigator, Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, said in a Hubble news release.
Stern and his colleagues suspect this fifth moon won’t be the stuff they find in Pluto’s neighborhood. "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.
Call it P5 ... for now
The fifth moon is currently known only by its provisional names: S/2012 (134340) 1, or P5 for short. It’ll be up to the discoverers to propose a more lyrical name to the International Astronomical Union, which classified Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006.
P5 was detected in 14 separate sets of images taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 26, 27 and 29 plus July 7 and 9. The Hubble team says it’s in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that steers clear of the dwarf planet’s four other satellites — including the biggest moon, Charon. Two other moons, Nix and Hydra, were discovered in 2006, and the fourth moon (P4) was found in Hubble data last year.
"The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls," team leader Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute said in today’s news release.
If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice? 2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be.
Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression? 2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years.
On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work.
Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain.
This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police 2014 09 30 Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election
Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
Scottish Independence: Protesters demand revote 2014 09 30
Pro-independence campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for the second day in a row, this time to demand a revote of the September 18 referendum.
While yesterday’s “Rally For A Revote” saw the return of Saltires and Yes banners to Holyrood, it did not match the turnout for the “Voice Of The People” rally held on Saturday, when up 3000 people ...