How Pluto got its moons

A catastrophic collision in space created three moons discovered around the distant planet Pluto, astronomers said yesterday.
And they believe Pluto could also be circled by rings from the debris left by the crash – like Saturn’s only much fainter.
The space collision that produced the moons – confirmed by new pictures taken by the Hubble space telescope (see right) – was reported in the British journal Nature.
US scientists led Dr Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute, used computer simulations to work out how the moons formed millions of years ago.
The biggest moon, Charon, was found in 1978, but the two smaller companions have only recently been discovered.
A Nasa probe, New Horizons, was launched last month on a ten-year, three billion mile journey to Pluto.

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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