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Pluto now has three moons, not one!

Scientists predict they were outcomes of Pluto's collision with a space object, which also resulted Charon's formation.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 13:44 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The old and faithful Hubble telescope has discovered two new tiny satellites orbiting Pluto.

Pluto was earlier recognised to have only one satellite, Charon, which was discovered in 1978.

US astronomers used the Hubble to spot the moonlets, which have been labelled S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2 until formal names are approved after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) confirms the find.

P1 and P2 appear to measure between 48 kilometres and 165 kilometres across and take 38 and 25 days respectively to orbit Pluto.

Scientists predict that the two new satellites were created due to Pluto's collision with a large space object, which had also resulted in the formation of Charon.

Pluto, discovered in 1930 by the American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, is the outermost of the acknowledged planets, although a new contender for that title emerged last year in the form of an object called 2003 UB313.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 12:42 IST