New Neptune moon discovered


This video is called Nasa’s Hubble telescope discovers new Neptune moon.

From the BBC:

15 July 2013 Last updated at 23:30 GMT

Nasa’s Hubble telescope discovers new Neptune moon

The Hubble space telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting Neptune, Nasa has confirmed.

Designated S/2004 N 1, this is the 14th known moon to circle the giant planet.

It also appears to be the smallest moon in the Neptunian system, measuring just 20 km (12 miles) across, completing one revolution around Neptune every 23 hours.

US astronomer Mark Showalter spotted the tiny dot while studying segments of rings around Neptune.

Nasa said the moon was roughly 100 million times dimmer than the faintest star visible to the naked eye.

It is so small that the Voyager spacecraft failed to spot it in 1989 when it passed close by Neptune and surveyed the planet’s system of moons and rings.

Mr Showalter’s method of discovery involved tracking the movement of a white fleck appearing over and over again in more than 150 photographs taken of Neptune by Hubble between 2004 and 2009.

“The moons and arcs orbit very quickly, so we had to devise a way to follow their motion in order to bring out the details of the system,” Mr Showalter explained.

“It’s the same reason a sports photographer tracks a running athlete – the athlete stays in focus, but the background blurs.”

See also here. And here.

The recently discovered fourth and fifth moons of Pluto now have official names: Kerberos and Styx: here.

Life on far-away planets?


This video says about itself:

16 Cygnus b is a gas giant located 70 light years from Earth, but it swings in and out of its habitable zone. Could life exist here?

From Discovery News:

Rocky Exoplanets May Be ‘Squishy’ Worlds

‘Super-Earths’ may contain hot minerals that morph into liquid metals, potentially generating life-protecting magnetic shields.

By Irene Klotz

Thu Nov 22, 2012 02:00 PM ET

Planets beyond the solar system that are bigger than Earth but smaller than gas giants like Neptune could have oceans of liquid metal and life-protecting magnetic shields.

Under the heat and pressure that exist inside super-Earths, magnesium oxide and other minerals commonly found in the rocky mantles of the terrestrial planets, transform into liquid metals, laboratory tests show.

The research has implications for understanding conditions on super-Earths, including whether they might be favorable for supporting life.