Pluto’s miniature family

Pluto has a new moon! Freshly released today, the latest news from Hubble is that we now know of 5 natural satellites circling around the king of the dwarf planets. The latest discovery is between 10-25 km in diameter, with an orbital radius of around 95000 km. For such a tiny little world, Pluto has rather a remarkable collection of moons.

By some coincidence, not long ago I made a little scale model of the Pluto system. It didn’t take much to add in the newest member of the family…

In this model of the Pluto system, all distances and sizes are to scale. Yes, Pluto’s family of moons really are that tiny! In fact, seen to scale like this they may be a little difficult to spot (click the image to aggrandise it and take a closer look). Actually, I’ll confess that at least once while drawing this, I managed to misplaced P4 and had to search the pasteboard to find it!

If these distances don’t mean much to you, here’s another one in which I’ve included Earth for a scale comparison (and it can also be embiggened by clickifying). Orbital diameters are also given for the International Space Station and for geostationary satellites. I would have included the Moon too, but at the size you see it on this page, the Moon would be several inches to the left of your monitor. Space is big.

Image credits:
Upper – NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)
Lower – Invader Xan/supernovacondensate.net (that would be me)

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About invaderxan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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