Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 July 16
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Fifth Moon Discovered Orbiting Pluto
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Mark Showalter (SETI Institute)

Explanation: A fifth moon has been discovered orbiting Pluto. The moon was discovered earlier this month in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in preparation for the New Horizons mission's scheduled flyby of Pluto in 2015. Pictured above, the moon is currently seen as only a small blip that moves around the dwarf planet as the entire system slowly orbits the Sun. The moon, given a temporary designation of S/2012 (134340) 1 or just P5 (as labeled), is estimated to span about 15 kilometers and is likely composed mostly of water-ice. Pluto remains the only famous Solar System body never visited by a human-built probe and so its origins and detailed appearance remain mostly unknown.

Tomorrow's picture: galaxy forming

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