Hidden Nook

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Two Moons Discovered Around Pluto

[Media Source*]

(Earth Times) The two new moons were found on May 15 and May 18 respectively and were named S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2. While S/2005 P1, whose orbit is around 40,000 miles away from Pluto, is 100 miles wide, S/2005 P2 is believed to be smaller and around 30,000 miles away from its parent planet. Charon orbits around 12,000 miles away from Pluto.

Although these moons are merely "planetoid-like" objects, their presence raises questions such as how were these bodies captured in the first place and do other Kuiper belt objects (such as Xena) have minor bodies orbiting themselves as well. Although this discovery probably is not a major event as far as astronomy goes, star gazers everywhere will probably be hunting for more lunar objects in order to cement their place in history.

(Earth Times) In-depth analysis of the images has revealed that Pluto's three moons are in resonance with each other. With each 12 circles that Charon takes around Pluto, S/2005 P1 revolves twice and S/2005 P2 thrice. Through this resonance, the NASA team hopes to crack the mystery of the moons' origin. "This is very important for New Horizons, because we will be able to plan a lot more," Stern said.

Although Pluto will probably not be a highlight for human visitation for the next fifty years, if humanity decides to pop by and visit, these asteroids would make great "rest stops" (that is if a ship were to travel beyond the Kuiper belt). As technology improves our telescopic abilities more worlds will probably be discovered, allowing us to see new worlds and begin the first steps towards conquering our "final frontier."

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By Darnell Clayton • 9:01 PM • Email Post • •


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