Hubble Space Telescope Discovering The Many Moons In Our Solar System


It was discovered in 2007 by astronomers Meg Schwamb, Mike Brown, and David Rabinowitz as part of a survey to search for distant solar system bodies using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in the US. Astronomers discovered a small moon orbiting 2007 OR10 or "Snow White", the third-biggest dwarf planet in our solar system.

The asteroid belt, called Kuiper Belt, contains nearly half a dozen small, icy dwarf planets including Pluto and nearly all of them have their own companion satellites. This indicates that the moon may be pulling it and decelerating its spin. 2007 OR10 is much slower at 45 hours. Sure enough, the telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 had picked up the moon twice during two different observation runs in 2009 and 2010. However, the astronomers were first tipped off about the moon's existence by Nasa's Kepler telescope's observations of 2007 OR10. "The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint", Kiss remarked. The images were taken by the Hubble telescope.

The dwarf planet is about 1529 kms across, and the moon is estimated to be 241 kms to 402 kms in diameter, the researchers determined.

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Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a frigid, dark, vast frontier of icy bodies left over from the Solar System's construction 4.6 billion years ago.

As the study pens down, the objects are most likely to slam into each other more frequently due to their residence in a crowded region. But they can help unravel mysteries of the universe.

The slow rotation could be caused by a moon's gravitational tug, the researchers reasoned. Of all the known dwarf planets in our solar system, only Pluto and Eris are bigger.

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"If there were frequent collisions, then it was quite easy to form these satellites", said Kiss. 2007 OR10 measures 950 miles in diameter, and its moon is around 240 and 400 kilometers wide. Snow White zooms around the sun in a distant, highly eccentric orbit, getting as close to our star as 33 astronomical units (AU) and as far away as 101 AU.

Billions of years ago, in our solar system, moons believe to have formed by collisions between their parent bodies and other objects. In fact, the gravitational force was responsible with displacing these bodies out of their orbits, and offering them the ideal speed to crash and create a new object. The snapshots reveal that the moon moves with the dwarf planet, proving that it is gravitationally bound to the larger body. If the collision speed was too fast, it would have resulted in tons of debris that could have escaped from the system. Pluto is the largest object in the belt, with one large moon.

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