In a new find, astronomers were astonished to discover two dark moons orbiting Uranus while examining the data collected Voyager 2 spacecraft. Researchers discovered some wavy patterns while checking ring system of Uranus and found two new dark moons that were hidden till date.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and contains beautiful ring system. It is the third largest planet in our solar system and boasts rings smaller than Saturn. Researchers have discovered 27 natural satellites of Uranus and the addition of two new satellites will force scientists to revise the number.
Uranus is very far from Sun which makes it difficult for scientists to find small hidden objects near the planet and its rings. Voyager 2 had discovered 10 moons by 1986 and since then the number has risen to 27 in next 20 years.
Researchers from the University of Idaho rechecked the data collected by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and got stunned to find something hidden between 13 rings of Uranus — Alpha and Beta. After examining the images, researchers found that these rings show a series of wavy patterns consistent with the presence of two tiny moons. “These patterns may be wakes from small moonlets orbiting exterior to these rings,” said study authors.
Study authors further added that these moons are very small with diameters measuring between two miles and nine miles (four to 14 km). It is because of their small size that scientists were unable to detect these moons till date. However, as the technology progressed and with better image processing, scientists have uncovered the mystery of alpha and beta rings of Uranus.
The astonishing discovery has raised the tentacles of scientists and they will examine the planet and its rings with the iconic Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
Moreover, Voyager 2 is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer planets. Its primary mission ended with the exploration of the Neptunian system on October 2, 1989, after having visited the Uranian system in 1986, the Saturnian system in 1981, and the Jovian system in 1979. Voyager 2 is now in its extended mission to study the outer reaches of the Solar System and has been operating for 39 years, 1 month and 27 days. It remains in contact through the Deep Space Network.