Tiny moon orbits dwarf planet

dwarf planet Makemake and newly discovered moon

A 2015 image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals a faint moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake.

NASA, ESA, A. Parker and M. Buie/SWRI

In the backwaters of the solar system lies the dwarf planet Makemake. The tiny world has an even tinier moon, NASA announced April 26. The moon was spotted in Hubble Space Telescope images as a smudge orbiting Makemake (shown above, arrow points to moon).

Researchers estimate that the moon, temporarily dubbed S/2015 (136472) 1, is about 160 kilometers wide; its home world is about 1,400 kilometers across. The satellite appears to trek around Makemake once every 12 days or more. The moon’s motion can help researchers determine the mass of Makemake, one of the largest known bodies in the Kuiper belt. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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