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.