Hubble telescope finds small moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake

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 beyond Pluto, lies the dwarf planet Makemake. And the tiny world has an even tinier moon, NASA announced April 26. The moon was spotted as a dark smudge orbiting Makemake in April 2015 images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Researchers estimate that the moon, temporarily dubbed S/2015 (136472) 1, is roughly 160 kilometers wide; its home world, by comparison, is about 1,400 kilometers across. The satellite appears to trek around Makemake once every 12 days or more, though more observations are needed to nail down its orbit. 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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