We only recently discovered that there is a tenth planet in our solar system. Now it has been discovered that there is a moon orbiting this planet. Both planet and moon are far away from the sun and other planets, which is why there has long been controversy about whether this is actually a planet or merely an asteroid that got caught in our solar system’s gravitational pull. The existence of the moon gives credence to astronomers who believe we have a tenth planet.
The moon was discovered in September with the use of the Keck II telescope. The tenth planet is not officially a planet yet and has not been named. It’s still known by its designation 2003UB313.
Astronomer Mike Brown was the first to announce his discovery of the new planet in July. He originally spotted it in 2003, which is why that number is part of its scientific name. So far, he’s calling “Xena” and is calling the moon “Gabrielle,” after the TV warrior princess and her companion.
Jeff Hecht writes in New Scientist that Xena is what’s known as a “trans-Neptunian” object, since it’s in an orbit around the sun that is farther away than Neptune, which we used to assume was our farthest planet. These objects are had to see because they are so faint. As soon as Brown realized Xena was a planet, he began searching for its moon?and now he’s found it.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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