This image was captured by New Horizons.
- discovered on 18th February 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh – it was became the ninth planet. (wikipedia)
- Pluto was by far the smallest.
- but since 2006,Pluto has been classified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Washington, USA.
- this mean Pluto fails to dominate its orbit around the Sun.
- a tiny ball of rock covered by ice, with frozen methane on the surface.
- when nearest to the Sun, Pluto has a very thin atmosphere, but when it is further away, the atmosphere freeze into ice on the surface.
- Pluto is further out than eight main planets, orbiting between 2,774 and 4,616 million miles from the Sun.
- Pluto takes 248 years to travel once around the Sun, even at an average speed of 10,600 miles per hour – it spins around in 6½ earth’s day – so nearly as long as an Earth’s one week.
- Pluto’s orbit is squashed into an oval shape – it is also called tilted.
- Does Pluto have any moons?
– yes, as of 2013, Pluto has five known moons.
– in order of distance from Pluto they are Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.
– in 1978, an American astronomer James Christy discovered that Pluto has a largest moon – Charon of Pluto’s moons.
– Charon is about half the size of Pluto and weighs about 7 times less than Pluto.
– it is tidally locked with Pluto such that the combination of Pluto+Charon.
– Pluto+Charon; sometimes thought of as a binary object.
– some astronomers think that Charon might be covered with water ice.
– then 2005 other two tiny moons were found.
– Nix and Hydra; these are very small moons and are thought to be between 30 and 100 miles across.
– Kerberos and Styx are the most recently discovered moons.
Back to Solar System page.