Friday, September 17, 2010

Pluto Gets 14 New Neighbors

Known collectively as trans-Neptunian objects, or TNOs, the first of this population to be discovered was Pluto in 1930. Since then we've found a thousand or so objects in Pluto's domain. Some have even been given exotic names, such as Chaos, Ixion, Quaoar, and Rhadamanthus. So far, two probes have ventured that deep into the solar system (that'd be Voyager 1 and 2) but neither one paid much heed to TNOs on their way farther afield.

That means astronomers using Earthly telescopes can only guess at how many bodies are out there, what they look like, and what they're made of. Now, using archived pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of scientists has found a way to spot TNOs, and they've added 14 more to the catalog. The trick to finding them is to look for the equivalent of meteor streaks in Hubble shots of other objects.

No comments:

Post a Comment