Once upon a time, there were nine planets in the solar system. Then some crazy astronomer got it in his head to remove Pluto from the equation, describing the smallest and most distant planet in the solar system as something more like a moon and less like an actual planet. Well, the joke’s on him, because Pluto seems to have more secrets than we’ve given it credit for. The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a fifth moon orbiting around Pluto.
“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said Mark Showalter, the leader of the SETI Institute team that found the images of the fifth moon. ”This is a very tidy system, and what that means is, it’s an orbitally evolved system. Literally there are shells where the orbits are stable.”
The moon, which hasn’t been named yet, was given the provisional name S/2012 (134340) 1, which has been shortened to P5. Pluto already has four moons: Charon, Hydra, Nix, and the unnamed P4. Scientists are holding off naming the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto due to the upcoming New Horizons space probe mission, which has the potential to discover even more moons for Pluto. After all, while the Hubble can see far away, there’s no better vantage point than getting nice and close.
Tags: pluto, fifth moon discovered for pluto, p5, hubble telescope, new horizons space probe, new horizons, pluto gets a fifth moon, astronomy, planets, new moon discovered orbiting pluto, the solar system, seti institute, mark showalter, seti, space telescope, hubble images show new moon for pluto