Neptune’s lost inner moon found

Naiad, the once lost moon of Neptune, emerged as a point of light (circled) just to the left of the planet in archived images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

M. Showalter/Hubble/NASA

Naiad, the tiny, innermost moon of Neptune, has reemerged after nearly 25 years in hiding.

It is the first time scientists have seen the small satellite since 1989, when Voyager 2 first photographed it.

Astronomers found the moon in archived images from the Hubble Space Telescope, which took snapshots of Neptune and everything orbiting it between 2004 and 2009. But it wasn’t until recently that astronomers were able to create the technology they needed to tease out Naiad’s faint reflection from Neptune’s much brighter light.

The team released the images at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Denver. They also revealed other archived Hubble images showing Neptune’s rings and ring-arcs, features which Voyager 2 also spotted for the first time during its flyby in the late 1980s.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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