Astronomers say they have discovered three additional moons circling Neptune. If confirmed, the findings would bring to 11 the planet's retinue and would be the first Neptunian moons found since Voyager 2 flew past the planet in 1989 and the first discovered with ground-based telescopes since 1949.
Only 30 to 40 kilometers in diameter, the newly discovered bodies are too dim by a factor of 100 million to be discerned by the naked eye. Also complicating their observation is their great distance from Neptune–roughly 60 times as far as Triton, the planet's largest moon. A team led by Matthew J. Holman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and J.J. Kavelaars of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa reported the findings in a Jan.