New Moon Discovered Around Neptune in Old Hubble Images
2013 07 16

By Nadia Drake | wired.com



Our blue and gassy outer planet Neptune hosted 13 known moons until today. Now, there are 14.

The new moon, known as S/2004 N1, is so small and faint that it escaped detection by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew by Neptune in 1989.

Just 12 miles across, the moon orbits outside the planet’s ring system, carving a rut into space about 65,400 miles away from the ice giant. But S/2004 N1 is a little speed demon: It completes its 372,000-mile orbital journey in just 23 hours.

“This is a moon that never sits still long enough to get its picture taken,” said the SETI Institute’s ace moon-finder Mark Showalter, who discovered the moon while studying long-exposure, archival images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s one of a half-dozen moons Showalter has found, including Mab and Cupid around Uranus, Saturn’s shepherd moon Pan, and the two tiniest of Pluto’s moons, newly named Kerberos and Styx.

Does finding moons ever get boring? Nope. “It’s a rush,” Showalter said.

Showalter first spied something that could have been a new Neptunian moon on July 1. He’d been studying the planet’s rings, and thought to look a bit farther out. “There was this little dot sitting there,” he said. “It looked like it could be a moon.”

Because S/2004 N1 is so dim, Showalter needed some time to confirm the moon’s presence. After aligning and combining about 15 sets of Hubble images taken between 2004 and 2009, he determined that the dot was, in fact, a moon. Roughly 150 images helped him plot the satellite’s orbit. “You can’t see it in the individual images, but when you combine images, it turns up,” he said. “It turns up very consistently.”

Now, he says, he’d like to apply the same technique to long-exposure images of the other outer planets, and see if there might be more dim satellites playing hide-and-seek.

[...]

Read the full article at: www.wired.com






Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »