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Uranus moon count: 27 and rising

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7:00am, October 25, 2016
Uranus image from Hubble Telescope

A false-color image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the rings of Uranus. Newly identified clumps in the rings may have been created by two undiscovered moons.

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Two more teeny moons might be lurking around Uranus. That’s in addition to the 27 we already know about. Fluctuations in the density of two of the planet’s dark rings, seen in radio data from the 1986 flyby of the Voyager 2 spacecraft, could be caused by unseen moonlets, Robert Chancia and Matthew Hedman, astronomers at the University of Idaho in Moscow, report online October 9 at arXiv.org.

At probably just 4 to 14 kilometers wide, both moons would be very difficult to detect in Voyager 2 images, the researchers report. New observations with ground-based telescopes might have better luck. 

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