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New but tiny moon found circling distant Pluto

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | 1:00 p.m. CDT; updated 4:26 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HOUSTON — Distant and tiny Pluto has been hiding something from Earth: another moon.

NASA announced Wednesday that the Hubble Space Telescope has found a fourth moon circling Pluto, which had been demoted from full planet to dwarf planet. Astronomers had been looking to see if Pluto had a ring, but instead they found another object circling the dwarf planet that is 3 billion miles from Earth.

It is a mini-moon, only eight to 21 miles wide. Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, is 80 times bigger than that. The other two moons are Nix and Hydra.

Until astronomers decide a name, this moon is called P4.

 


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