New Moon Discovered Around Neptune in Old Hubble Images
2013-07-16 0:00

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

Facebook’s New ‘Chinese-style’ Political Censorship System Goes Global
2015-01-29 4:35
Last week 21WIRE reported on Facebook’s new communitarian policy whereby readers can ‘flag’ content as “fake news” if they believe it’s not real, or if they do not like it. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo False Flag event, the social media giant is now allowing governments to determine what is ‘good free speech’, and what is not. “An article ...
"Cheerful" Dutch Financier Becomes 4th ABN Amro Banker Suicide
2015-01-28 23:47
Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as ...
West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
More News »