MAY 04, 2016 9:11 AM PDT

NASA Says Astronomers Have Found a New Moon in our Solar System

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

We’ve heard a lot about the dwarf planet Pluto within the past year, especially with the historic fly-by of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft having successfully snapped crystal clear photographs of it while it passed.
 
But in case you didn’t know, there’s another dwarf planet out there just beyond Pluto that hardly gets any attention in the news. And now, it’s getting that attention it deserves.
 
Dubbed Makemake, this 870-mile diameter dwarf planet is cold just like Pluto and resides in the Kuiper Belt, and NASA recently announced having discovered a new moon in our solar system that orbits Makemake with the Hubble Space Telescope.
 

Makemake's newly found moon.


“Makemake is in the class of rare Pluto-like objects, so finding a companion is important,” Alex Parker of Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado said. “The discovery of this moon has given us an opportunity to study Makemake in far greater detail than we ever would have been able to without the companion.”
 
The moon has been given the nickname MK 2 and is believed to orbit its dwarf planet about 13,000 miles away. The moon has a diameter of 100 miles across, or nearly 1/9 of the diameter of its host dwarf planet planet.
 
What’s more is the moon is very faint. It’s not as reflective as Makemake is, and NASA estimates it to be about 1300 times fainter than its host. Clearly, this is the reason why NASA has had so much trouble seeing it until now.
 

 
The faint, dark surface of MK 2 is believed to the be source of heat that scientists have been looking for in terms of Makemake’s random warm patches that have been observed with infrared. Darker colors absorb Sunlight more than lighter ones, and it’s believed this is the effect MK 2 is having on Makemake.
 
It’s an interesting discovery that will help scientists in their work to formulate new theories, however it won’t be until we get more powerful space telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope into space that we can better observe these bodies in greater detail.
 
Perhaps someday, we’ll even get to fly past Makemake with another New Horizons-like spacecraft.

Source: NASA, YouTube

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 20, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Potential Signs of Life Spotted in the Clouds of Venus
SEP 20, 2020
Potential Signs of Life Spotted in the Clouds of Venus
Scientists were stunned to discover possible signs of life in the atmosphere of Venus. Their initial findings were confi ...
OCT 03, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
New observations on supermassive black holes
OCT 03, 2020
New observations on supermassive black holes
New observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) provide insight on how supermas ...
OCT 29, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Einstein: Gravity? What Gravity?
OCT 29, 2020
Einstein: Gravity? What Gravity?
Try imagining a fictional conversation between Issac Newton and Albert Einstein: "The apple falls toward the ground ...
NOV 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
NOV 14, 2020
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
Researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have shown that bacteria can increase space mining efficiency b ...
DEC 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Watching a Nebula Fade
DEC 06, 2020
Watching a Nebula Fade
Nebulas are vast clouds of dust and gas that are remnants of exploded stars or in other cases, nurseries for where stars ...
FEB 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
FEB 17, 2021
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
The Chicxulub impactor is thought to have crashed into Earth around 66 million years ago near the Mexican coast. The cra ...
Loading Comments...