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Pluto's 4th moon
jekbradbury
post Jul 20 2011, 10:59 PM
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I see two possibilities. Perhaps Pluto will continue to be the only object in the solar system with a number of discovered natural satellites between two and 13, a fact which might point to a particularly interesting orbital history that could be related to the presence of Charon. Alternatively, it will be joined in this distinction by some significant fraction of other TNOs as soon as a similar degree of attention is paid to them. Either way, there will be some explaining to do - and I don't know which of "Pluto is unique" and "the Kuiper belt is full of 3,4,5+-body-systems" would be easier to explain.
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ElkGroveDan
post Jul 20 2011, 11:37 PM
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QUOTE (jekbradbury @ Jul 20 2011, 03:59 PM) *
the only object in the solar system with a number of discovered natural satellites between two and 13

...and the only object in the solar system with a natural satellite discovered in an image taken on a Tuesday.


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djellison
post Jul 20 2011, 11:44 PM
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QUOTE (jekbradbury @ Jul 20 2011, 03:59 PM) *
I see two possibilities. Perhaps Pluto will continue to be the only object in the solar system with a number of discovered natural satellites between two and 13, a fact which might point to a particularly interesting orbital history that could be related to the presence of Charon.


No. There's at least one asteroid with three moons - a quadruple system.

http://www.oca.eu/workshop/Pise/slides/Pisa-Colas.pdf
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nprev
post Jul 21 2011, 12:18 AM
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The NH encounter just keeps getting more & more exciting. Never wanted four years to pass so fast before in my life! biggrin.gif


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Drkskywxlt
post Jul 21 2011, 12:20 PM
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What's the general consensus (or is there any?) on whether these objects (Nix, Hydra and P4) are all moons that formed following a large impact on either Charon or Pluto? Or could all 5 objects be ones that formed alone and then Pluto/Pluto-Charon's gravity captured them?
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tfisher
post Jul 21 2011, 01:48 PM
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QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Jul 21 2011, 07:20 AM) *
What's the general consensus (or is there any?) on whether these objects (Nix, Hydra and P4) are all moons that formed following a large impact on either Charon or Pluto?

This is answered in the article linked in the first post of this thread:
QUOTE
The dwarf planetí s entire moon system is believed to have
formed by a collision between Pluto and another planet-
sized body early in the history of the solar system. The
smashup flung material that coalesced into the family of
satellites observed around Pluto.

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Drkskywxlt
post Jul 21 2011, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (tfisher @ Jul 21 2011, 08:48 AM) *
This is answered in the article linked in the first post of this thread:


Cool, thanks.

That's a bit disappointing though from the standpoint of examining as many formationally-unique KBOs as possible.
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IM4
post Jul 23 2011, 08:21 AM
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Pluto's P4 moon is now available at SSD Horizons (body ID: 904)
NH closest approach to P4 will take place 2015-Jul-14 12:03 CT at distance of 67000 km.
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Explorer1
post Jul 23 2011, 05:27 PM
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So that means P4 will appear just a little smaller than the simulation on page 1; still way better then a point of light!
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ugordan
post Jul 23 2011, 05:34 PM
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It would appear just a little smaller if NH were to image it exactly at closest approach. That's not likely to be the case given other observation timings and priorities.


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elakdawalla
post Jul 24 2011, 02:36 AM
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Also, the orbit used to make that calculation may not yet be accurate enough to determine precisely where it'll be four years from now...


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tasp
post Jul 24 2011, 04:41 AM
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LOL, when the accurate orbit becomes available, I bet the savy simulation wranglers here find a stunning Kodak moment or two.

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IM4
post Jul 24 2011, 08:45 AM
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QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Jul 24 2011, 02:36 AM) *
Also, the orbit used to make that calculation may not yet be accurate enough to determine precisely where it'll be four years from now...


All Pluto's moons are orbiting at strongly resonant orbits. Nix, P4 and Hydra periods are multiples of the Charon-Pluto orbital period (as 1:4:5:6 to be precise) and therefore actual orbital position can not drift too much from predicted one. Actual flyby viewing geometry will be quite close to the mentioned above.
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CAP-Team
post Jul 25 2011, 09:34 PM
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Am I right that the orbit of Pluto's fourth moon is much more elliptical and much more inclined?
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Alan Stern
post Aug 16 2011, 09:15 PM
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More on P4 (and NH too) in this radio interview aired today: http://howonearthradio.org/archives/1092
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