Hubble discovers another moon orbiting Pluto – that’s two in the last year

A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

“The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,” said team lead Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

The discovery increases the number of known moons orbiting Pluto to five.

The Pluto team is intrigued that such a small planet can have such a complex collection of satellites. The new discovery provides additional clues for unraveling how the Pluto system formed and evolved. The favored theory is that all the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper belt object billions of years ago.

The new detection will help scientists navigate NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world.

More on thisNASA: Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

 

 

Continue reading Hubble discovers another moon orbiting Pluto – that’s two in the last year

The Scale of the Universe – a fun, educational animation

An interactive Flash animation titled “Scale Of The Universe 2“, covering everything in the universe from the fabric of space-time to the estimated size of the universe, was posted earlier this year, and it is awesome. A month or so later, it went viral, but why…so popular?

First, the actual scale of the universe is mind blowing as it spans 62 orders of magnitude (that’s multiplying 62 10′s together).

Second, the animation is very well produced and packed with information.

Third, it was created by a 14-year-old, Cary Huang, and his twin brother, Michael, who worked on it for a year and a half as a fun project…

via The Singularity Hub

 

It’s true, it is really fun to play with, especially with all the weird objects they use for comparisons. I snapped a few screenshots below to show you some of them.

The first one is where the animation starts and the second is after scrolling out a bit. In both, you can see the size of a human in comparison to many objects (in the second one, there is a tiny human in the center).

In the last screenshot, you can see how California, Texas, and Italy are about the size of many moons and Pluto!

The Scale of the Universe 2