Skip to comments.Pluto's moons offer clues to extrasolar planets around dual-star systems
Posted on 06/30/2012 1:36:13 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Pluto and its partner moon Charon are helping scientists figure out where to look for planets that circle two parent stars.
The frozen duo, which orbits about 40 times as far away from the sun as Earth, balance a brood of at least three smaller moons, Nix, Hydra and a newly discovered body, designated P4, that flies between the two.
The whole system takes up less room than the span between Earth and our moon, providing a delicate orbital ballet that has implications for finding planets around dual-star systems beyond the solar system.
New Horizons probe will test computer simulations predicting the moons' locations and sizes.
Following last year's discovery of P4 in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers ran computer models to try to pin down the moons' locations relative to each other and to Pluto and Charon, a proportionally large moon that has about 12 percent of Plutoâs mass...
The research by Youdin and colleagues not only put some limits on how big Pluto's moons are and where they are located. It also is helping scientists figure out where to look for planets that circle two parent stars.
So far, astronomers using NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, for example, have found systems with a single planet orbiting two stars, but not multiple planets, though that may be about to change...
The computer simulation will soon get a field test. NASA's New Horizons probe is en route to the outer corner of the solar system to study Pluto, Charon and the small moons, as well as other objects in the Kuiper Belt region...
The geometry doesn't leave much space for additional moons close to the dwarf planet, though there could be more orbiting farther away.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.bioscholar.com ...
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Is Pluto still a planet this week? Last I heard it had been relegated to frozen rock status.
I’m on top of the ongoing missions. A big landing coming up on mars in 36 days. Its a tricky landing and I hope they pull it off.
It's like when a mandate turns into a tax and then isn't a tax.
If by "Pluto" you mean "the economy," then yes. Yes it has been regulated to frozen rock status.
It’s not fair that Pluto has 4 moons (at least) and the earth has only one. The moon has a little over 1% of the mass of the earth—but Pluto has only about 1/6 as much mass as the moon. And it rates having 4 moons?
Hadn't you heard? . . . Bush's fault.
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