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Three of Pluto's moons bound by gravity in a peculiar pattern

意得辑专家视点 | 2015年6月5日 | 1,506 浏览次数
Three of Pluto’s moons bound by gravity in a peculiar pattern

Pluto, the dwarf planet, has five satellites out of which three satellites named Styx, Nix, and Hydra have become gravitationally locked and are moving together in an unusual orbit. Researchers observed that the three moons of Pluto have formed a peculiar pattern known as a three-body resonance. This observation would prove to be vital as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, whose mission includes hunting for undiscovered moons of Pluto, is headed towards Pluto in the coming month and can help understand the strange assortment Pluto’s moons have created. Mark Showalter, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, whose team is studying Pluto’s satellite system, also found that Pluto’s moon Kerberos has a darker hue than Nix and Hydra, which suggests that it is made of a different material. They are awaiting New Horizons’ observations to cognize Pluto’s mysterious satellite orbit pattern.

Read more in Nature.      

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