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Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Yellow Magpie


Nix: Dwarf Planet Pluto’s Moon

Nix With Hydra And Charon Orbiting Pluto Photo By H. Weaver JHU/APL, A. Stern SwRI And The HST Pluto Companion Search Team

Nix is a moon with plenty of unknown mysteries. As of yet we don’t know what it looks like, we don’t know what it is made from and we don’t even know how big it is. In 2015 we will have hopefully answered all of these burning questions.

Pluto’s moon Nix was only recently discovered in 2005 by the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s sister moon, Hydra was also found simultaneously in the process.

Physical Characteristics

It is thought that Nix is somewhere between 60 and 160 kilometres (37 to 100 miles) in width. Due to the fact that Nix appears dimmer than Hydra, scientists believe that it may be smaller than its sister moon. Nix orbits Pluto at a distance of nearly 49,000 kilometres (30,000 miles) taking nearly 25 Earth-days to do so.

The temperature of the moon is somewhere between 33 and 55 degrees Kelvin (minus 220 to 240 degrees Celsius).

Nix And Hydro's First Sighting With Charon In Blue And Pluto In White Photo By NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU APL), A. Stern (SwRI), and the Hubble Space Telescope Pluto Companion Search Team

The Name Nix

The name Nix was adopted from the Greek goddess of night and darkness. Nix was also appropriately the mother of Charon the ferryman of dead souls. Charon, pronounced Sharon, is the dwarf planet Pluto’s largest moon.

New Horizons Exploration

Almost nothing is known about Nix though that is expected to change in 2015 when the New Horizons spacecraft flies past Pluto. New Horizons should provide a wealth of information about this small moon. Until then we just have to use our own imagination.

Highly Recommended Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s The Kuiper Belt: Home To The Dwarf Planets for more insight into this frozen region of the Solar System.

You may also wish to take a gander at The Solar System And Beyond: A Guide To The Cosmos.

Cosmos is a highly recommended book. It contains large, full-page pictures of the asteroids and writing on the subject by the highly competent author, Giles Sparrow.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Cosmos from here.
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain: Cosmos here.
For Germany: Cosmos.
For France: Cosmos.

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