These three pictures show three newly discovered moons of Neptune!
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Three New Moons Found Around Neptune!
News story originally written on January 14, 2003
A team of astronomers has discovered three previously unknown moons around Neptune using ground-based telescopes bringing the total number of moons up to 11!
The three moons were very difficult to detect because they are very small, only about 30-40 km (18-24 miles) across. Also, being so far from the Sun, the three moons do not shine very brightly. In fact, your eyes would have to be 100 million times better to see them without a telescope.
The astronomers were able to pick up the faint light from the moons by taking multiple pictures with two telescopes: the Blanco telescope in Chile and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii. They digitally combined the images and were able to see points of light where the moons were located.
Before their research, only 8 moons were known to orbit Neptune. The two largest, Triton and Nereid, were discovered in 1846 and 1949 respectively. The others were discovered by the Voyager probe in 1989. Voyager II probably missed the three new satellites because they are so small and faint and they all orbit a large distance from Neptune.
According to Mathew Hollman, one of the leaders of the team of astronomers, “Tracking these moons is an enormous, international undertaking involving the efforts of many people. Without teamwork, such faint objects could be easily lost.”
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
The rare geometric arrangement of planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the 1980's made it possible for the Voyager spacecrafts to visit them over a 12 year span instead of the normal 30. They...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more