Many-headed dog, goddess lend names to Pluto moons

Jul 02, 2013
This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting Pluto, the distant, icy dwarf planet, on July 7, 2012. Pluto's fourth and fifth moons, discovered in 2011 and 2012, have been named Kerberos and Styx, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said on Tuesday.

Pluto's fourth and fifth moons, discovered in 2011 and 2012, have been named Kerberos and Styx, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said on Tuesday.

Formerly known as P4 and P5, the names were submitted by the astronomers who found them, with input from the general public in an open contest, the Paris-based organisation said.

Kerberos is the Greek spelling for the name Cerberus—a many-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology.

Styx was the name of the goddess who ruled over an underworld river by the same name.

The moons were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope.

"Kerberos lies between the orbits of Nix and Hydra, two bigger moons discovered by Hubble in 2005, and Styx lies between Charon, the innermost and biggest moon, and Nix," said the IAU.

Charon was the first moon to be spotted, in 1978.

"Kerberos has an estimated diameter of 13 to 34 kilometres (eight to 21 miles) and Styx is thought to be irregular in shape and is 10 to 25 km across."

The IAU acts as the arbiter in naming , advised by astronomers.

"The IAU rules ensure that the names work across and cultures in order to support collaborative worldwide research and avoid confusion," it said in a statement.

Pluto, once known as the ninth planet from the Sun, was declassified as a full-fledged planet in August 2006 and joined a new category of dwarf planets, although the decision remains widely contested.

At about 2,300 km (1,430 miles) wide, it is two-thirds the size of the Moon and has a mass less than one percent of the Earth's.

Explore further: Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Capt. Kirk's Vulcan entry wins Pluto moons contest (Update)

Feb 25, 2013

"Star Trek" fans, rejoice. An online vote to name Pluto's two newest, itty-bitty moons is over. And No. 1 is Vulcan, a name suggested by actor William Shatner, who played Capt. Kirk in the original "Star Trek" TV series.

Can one buy the right to name a planet? IAU responds

Apr 13, 2013

In the light of recent events, where the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets has been advertised, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) wishes to inform the public that such schemes have ...

Hubble discovers another moon around Pluto

Jul 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite, temporarily designated P4, was uncovered in a Hubble survey ...

How many planets are in the solar system?

May 28, 2013

I'm just going to warn you, this is a controversial topic. Some people get pretty grumpy when you ask: how many planets are in the Solar System? Is it eight, ten, or more?

Recommended for you

Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Jul 25, 2014

More than four centuries after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed the supernova that bears his name, the supernova remnant it created is now a bright source of X-rays. The supersonic expansion of ...

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

Jul 24, 2014

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

Jul 24, 2014

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lurker2358
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2013
I'm glad they're using up all the heathen names on barren hunks fo rock and ice, or gas giants in other solar systems.

By the time they find things that are worth inhabiting, theoretically, the only thing remaining for the habitable planets will be Christian names and Jewish names. Awesome.
Neinsense99
3.5 / 5 (11) Jul 02, 2013
I'm glad they're using up all the heathen names on barren hunks fo rock and ice, or gas giants in other solar systems.

By the time they find things that are worth inhabiting, theoretically, the only thing remaining for the habitable planets will be Christian names and Jewish names. Awesome.

Yes, so they can name them after genocidal conquerors and sacrificers of children. Brilliant!
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2013
Charon was named after Jim Christy's wife.
Christy discovered Charon.
OckhamsRazor
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2013
Considering that Christianity borrowed stories and ideas from all the previous religions before it, I'd say we'd be done with religious names before we have to stoop to that, Lurker. We'd have already used all of the relevant names.

The next step would be to start honouring science fiction and using some of those names, of which there is a veritable treasure trove. They would sound much better than the baby-murdering planet Herod, or the questionable moon of Sodom...I think we'd much prefer a Tatooine, Hoth, Vogsphere or even an Omicron Persei 8.
NOM
not rated yet Jul 03, 2013
Jewish/Xian mythology is too boring to name anything after.