Photos
Article

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet Neptune, the 14th known to be circling the giant planet.

 

The moon, designated S/2004 N 1, is estimated to be no more than 12 miles across, making it the smallest known moon in the Neptunian system. It is so small and dim that it is roughly 100 million times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye. It even escaped detection by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew past Neptune in 1989 and surveyed the planet's system of moons and rings.

 

Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., found the moon July 1, while studying the faint arcs, or segments of rings, around Neptune. "The moons and arcs orbit very quickly, so we had to devise a way to follow their motion in order to bring out the details of the system," he said. "It's the same reason a sports photographer tracks a running athlete -- the athlete stays in focus, but the background blurs."

 

The method involved tracking the movement of a white dot that appears over and over again in more than 150 archival Neptune photographs taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009.

On a whim, Showalter looked far beyond the ring segments and noticed the white dot about 65,400 miles from Neptune, located between the orbits of the Neptunian moons Larissa and Proteus. The dot is S/2004 N 1. Showalter plotted a circular orbit for the moon, which completes one revolution around Neptune every 23 hours.

 

The Hubble Space Telescope is a cooperative project between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., in Washington.

 

For images, video, and more information Neptune's new moon, visit: http://hubblesite.org/news/2013/30

 

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

 

 

Image Credit:
NASA, ESA, M. Showalter/SETI Institute
Comments
Order by: 
Per page: 
 
  •  Eldensword: 
     
    Ok, NOW I'm going with "Death Star"....Um, we've been watching Neptune for how many hundreds of years and we JUST found THIS?...Yep, Death Star people...Gear up!
     
     265 days ago 
    0 points
     
The Social Network Buzz - Comment using your Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo! account
Info
Administrator
The Black Vault Owner/Operator
07.15.2013 (279 days ago)
Main Space
373 Views
0 Subscribers
All News by Administrator
Share This Article
Rate
0 votes
Related News
NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon
Main Space
Yesterday · From Administrator
Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone"
Main Space
3 days ago · From Administrator
Pivoting planets that lean one way and then change orientation within a short geological time period might be surprisingly habitable
Main Space
4 days ago · From Administrator
Life took root more than four billion years ago on our nascent Earth, a wetter and harsher place than now, bathed in sizzling ultraviolet rays.
Main Space
4 days ago · From Administrator
Wonder what the lunar eclipse of 4/15/2014 would have looked like if you were standing on the surface of the moon?
Main Space
5 days ago · From Administrator
NASA Hubble Finds New Neptune Moon