News / Science & Technology

Astronomer Finds New Moon Orbiting Neptune

The location of a newly discovered moon, designated S/2004 N 1, orbiting Neptune, is seen in this composite Hubble Space Telescope handout image taken in August 2009. The new moon is the 14th known moon to be circling the distant blue-green planet. (NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute photo)
The location of a newly discovered moon, designated S/2004 N 1, orbiting Neptune, is seen in this composite Hubble Space Telescope handout image taken in August 2009. The new moon is the 14th known moon to be circling the distant blue-green planet. (NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute photo)
Reuters
An astronomer studying archived images of Neptune taken by the Hubble Space Telescope has found a 14th moon orbiting the planet, NASA said on Monday.
 
Estimated to be about 12 miles (20 km) in diameter, the moon is located about 65,400 miles (105,251 km) from Neptune.
 
Astronomer Mark Showalter, with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, was searching Hubble images for moons inside faint ring fragments circling Neptune when he decided to run his analysis program on a broader part of the sky.
 
“We had been processing the data for quite some time and it was on a whim that I said, 'OK, let's just look out further,” Showalter said.
 
“I changed my program so that instead of stopping just outside the ring system it processed the data all the way out, walked away from my computer and waited an hour while it did all the processing for me. When I came back, I looked at the image and there was this extra dot that wasn't supposed to be there,” Showalter added.
 
This diagram provided by NASA shows the orbits of several moons located close to the planet Neptune. The new moon, Neptune's tiniest, is designated S/2004 N 1.This diagram provided by NASA shows the orbits of several moons located close to the planet Neptune. The new moon, Neptune's tiniest, is designated S/2004 N 1.
x
This diagram provided by NASA shows the orbits of several moons located close to the planet Neptune. The new moon, Neptune's tiniest, is designated S/2004 N 1.
This diagram provided by NASA shows the orbits of several moons located close to the planet Neptune. The new moon, Neptune's tiniest, is designated S/2004 N 1.
Follow-up analysis of other archived Hubble images of Neptune verified the object was a moon.
 
Showalter and colleagues are mulling over a name to propose to the International Astronomical Union, which has final say in the matter.
 
“We haven't really gotten far with that. What I can say is that the name will be out of Roman and Greek mythology and it will have to do with characters who are related to Neptune, the god of the oceans,” Showalter said.
 
Neptune's largest moon, Triton, was discovered in 1846, just days after the planet itself was found. Nereid, Neptune's third largest moon was found in 1949.
 
Images taken by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft unveiled the second largest moon, Proteus, and five smaller moons, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea and Larissa.
 
Ground-based telescopes found Halimede, Laomedeia, Sao and Nestor in 2002. Sister moon Psamathe turned up a year later.
 
The newly found moon, designated S/2004 N 1, is located between Larissa and Proteus. It orbits Neptune in 23 hours.
 
A paper on the discovery is pending.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid