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Some deadly monikers

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9:42am, July 18, 2006

Pluto and its large moon Charon have some company in the underworld. Two recently discovered small moons orbiting Pluto have now been officially dubbed Nix and Hydra. Nix is the mythological goddess of the night. One of Nix's offspring was Charon, who ferried the dead across the river Styx to hell. Hydra was a nine-headed, poisonous serpent that resided at the gate.

Discovered by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005, Nix and Hydra are about 0.02 percent as faint as Pluto and lie two to three times farther from Pluto than Charon does (SN: 11/5/05, p. 291: New Partners: Hubble finds more moons around Pluto). A ground-based telescope revealed Charon in 1978.

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