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New Pluto Moons Are Named Kerberos And Styx

3 July, 2013


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MessageToEagle.com - The International Astronomical Union (IA announced that the names Kerberos and Styx have officially been recognized for the fourth and fifth moons of Pluto - formerly known as P4 and P5.

The new moons were discovered in 2011 and 2012, during observations of the Pluto system made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3.

Kerberos lies between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, two bigger moons discovered by Hubble in 2005, and Styx lies between Charon, the innermost and biggest moon, and Nix.



Click on image to enlarge

This discovery image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The darker stripe in the centre of the image is because the picture is constructed from a long exposure designed to capture the comparatively faint satellites of Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx, and a shorter exposure to capture Pluto and Charon, which are much brighter. Kerberos has an estimated diameter of 13 to 34 kilometres, and Styx is thought to be irregular in shape and 10 to 25 kilometres across. Credit: NASA, ESA and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)


Both have circular orbits assumed to be in the plane of the other satellites in the system. Kerberos has an estimated diameter of 13 to 34 kilometres, and Styx is thought to be irregular in shape and is 10 to 25 kilometres across.

After the discovery, the leader of the research team, Mark Showalter (SETI Institute), decided to call for a public vote to suggest names for the two objects.

To be consistent with the names of the other Pluto satellites, the names had to be picked from classical mythology, in particular with reference to the underworld - the realm where the souls of the deceased go in the afterlife.

The contest concluded with the proposed names Vulcan, Cerberus and Styx ranking first, second and third respectively.

After a final deliberation, the IAU agreed to change Cerberus to Kerberos - the Greek spelling of the word, to avoid confusion with an asteroid called 1865 Cerberus.

According to mythology, Cerberus - or Kerberos in Greek - was a many-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld.

The name Vulcan was already used earlier and it does not fit into the underworld mythological scheme.

Instead the third most popular name was chosen - Styx, the name of the goddess who ruled over the underworld river, also called the Styx.

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New Pluto Moons Are Named Kerberos And Styx

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