NASA’s Hubble Discovers Moon Orbiting Dwarf Planet Makemake

Astronomers using the Hubble
Space Telescope just discovered a moon orbiting dwarf planet
Makemake. Makemake is in a region beyond the orbit of
Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. Several of the largest Kuiper
Belt Objects are known to have moons, and as of April 2016,
that now includes Makemake, the second brightest and third
largest known object past the orbit of Neptune. Using
observations taken in 2015 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, a
team of astronomers from the Southwest Research Institute,
Lowell Observatory, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
estimate this moon to be approximately 100 miles in
diameter. Hubble will need to take further observations to see
exactly how frequently this moon orbits Makemake. Astronomers
hope to use this orbiting moon to better estimate Makemake’s
mass, which will give us a better idea of the dwarf
planet’s overall density and thus its bulk composition. The
Hubble Space Telescope has been instrumental in the study of
objects in the outer solar system. Hubble also discovered
four of the five moons orbiting Pluto, visited by NASA’s New
Horizons spacecraft last July.


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