Hubble Spots Moon Around Third Largest Dwarf Planet

Stsci_2017-18_1024

stsci_2017-18 May 18th, 2017

Credit: NASA, ESA, C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory), and J. Stansberry (STScI)

Most of the dwarf planets now have known moons

Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a frigid, dark, vast frontier of countless icy bodies left over from the solar system's construction 4.6 billion years ago. This region, called the Kuiper Belt, was hypothesized by astronomer Gerard Kuiper in 1951. But it took another four decades for astronomers to confirm its existence. The largest bodies are called dwarf planets, with Pluto being the biggest member. Pluto is so big, in fact, that it was discovered 60 years before other Kuiper worlds were detected. Moons around dwarf planets are elusive, though. Pluto's moon Charon wasn't found until the mid-1970s.

Now, astronomers have uncovered a moon around another dwarf planet by using the combined power of three space observatories, including archival images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Called 2007 OR10, it is the third-largest dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. With this moon's discovery, most of the known dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt larger than 600 miles across have companions. These bodies provide insight into how moons formed in the young solar system. In fact, there is an emerging view that collisions between planetary bodies can result in the formation of moons. Based on moon rock samples from NASA's Apollo mission, astronomers believe that Earth's only natural satellite was born out of a collision with a Mars-sized object 4.4 billion years ago.

Provider: Hubble Space Telescope | STScI

Image Source: http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-18

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

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Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
TNO 2007 OR10
Subject - Solar System
Interplanetary Body > Asteroid

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Hubble (WFC3/UVIS) Optical (V-band) 606.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Stsci_2017-18_1280
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ID
2017-18
Subject Category
A.2.3  
Subject Name
TNO 2007 OR10
Credits
NASA, ESA, C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory), and J. Stansberry (STScI)
Release Date
2017-05-18
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-18
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble
Instrument
WFC3/UVIS
Color Assignment
Blue
Band
Optical
Bandpass
V-band
Central Wavelength
606
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-H-p1718a-f-1440x720.tif
Metadata Date
2017-05-11T11:40:06-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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