Neptune’s 14th moon discovered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Jul 16, 2013 12:30 IST

The U.S. space agency in July 2013 announced the discovery of Neptune’s 14th moon. The Hubble Space Telescope captured the moon as a white dot in photos of the planet on the periphery of our solar system.

The new moon, Neptune’s tiniest at just 19.3 km across, and is designated as S/2004 N 1.

The Neptune 14th moon was actually discovered by the SETI Institute’s Mark Showalter while studying the segments of rings around Neptune when he spotted the white dot popping out, 105250 km from Neptune. He tracked its movement in more than 150 pictures taken from 2004 to 2009.

The method involved tracking the movement of a white dot that appears over and over again in more than 150 archival Neptune photographs taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009. The considerably bigger gas giant Jupiter has four times as many moons, with 67.

Some facts about Neptune’s 14th moon S/2004 N 1

• The Neptune’s 14 moon is very small and dim and is roughly 100 million times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye.
• The Neptune’s 14 moon escaped detection by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew past Neptune in 1989 and surveyed the planet’s system of moons and rings
• The moon is estimated to be no more than 12 miles across and smallest known moon in the Neptunian system.
• The moons and arcs orbit very quickly, so there had to be a way to follow their motion in order to bring out the details of the system. It’s the same reason a sports photographer tracks a running athlete — the athlete stays in focus, but the background blurs.


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