Tiny New Moon Discovered around Neptune
This diagram shows the orbits of several moons located close to the planet Neptune. All of them were discovered in 1989 by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, with the exception of S/2004 N 1, which was discovered in archival Hubble Space Telescope images. Image: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed a small, never-before-seen moon around Neptune, boosting the giant blue planet's total satellite count to 14 satellites, new photos reveal.
The newfound Neptune moon — called S/2004 N 1 — was discovered July 1 during a fresh analysis of older Hubble Space Telescope images, scientists said. The newly discovered satellite is Neptune's smallest known moon and is just 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide.
Hubble telescope scientists announced the new Neptune moon's discovery today (July 15). The small satellite wasn't easy to find.
"The moons and arcs [segments of rings around the planet] orbit very quickly, so we had to devise a way to follow their motion in order to bring out the details of the system," SETI Institute scientist Mark Showalter, the moon's discoverer, said in a statement. "It's the same reason a sports photographer tracks a running athlete — the athlete stays in focus, but the background blurs."
Source and more