Amanda Barnett Charon, by far the largest, is fully half the size of Pluto. Argo Chasma potentially reaches as deep as 9 km (6 mi), with steep cliffs that may rival Verona Rupes on Miranda for the title of tallest cliff in the solar system. [34][35], Photometric mapping of Charon's surface shows a latitudinal trend in albedo, with a bright equatorial band and darker poles.

Charon is not in the list of dwarf planets currently recognized by the IAU.

Charon, Pluto's largest moon, in a photograph taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, July 11, 2015. The two objects are gravitationally locked to one another, so each keeps the same face towards the other. This resulted in reassessments of Pluto's size, mass, and other physical characteristics because the calculated mass and albedo of the Pluto–Charon system had previously been attributed to Pluto alone. Charon's discoverer James Christy and the children of Clyde Tombaugh were guests at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory during the New Horizons closest approach. Its gravitational influence is such that the barycenter of the Plutonian system lies outside Pluto. It was discovered telescopically on June 22, 1978, by James W. Christy and Robert S. Harrington at the U.S.

In this model, a large Kuiper belt object struck Pluto at high velocity, destroying itself and blasting off much of Pluto's outer mantle, and Charon coalesced from the debris. Pluto and Charon, to scale.

Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona―only about six miles from where Pluto itself was discovered at Lowell Observatory. [17] It was discovered in 1978 at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., using photographic plates taken at the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS). The little moon is so big that Pluto and Charon are sometimes referred to as a double dwarf planet system. Pluto and Charon as viewed by New Horizons(false-color; July 13, 2015). The periodicity of the bulge corresponded to Pluto's rotation period, which was previously known from Pluto's light curve. Charon, largest moon of the dwarf planet Pluto. New research reveals that Pluto's ice caps are created through an entirely different process than ice caps on Earth. [20] The International Astronomical Union formally announced Christy's discovery to the world on July 7, 1978.[21]. Charon Facts. Phillips Davis Charon was discovered in 1978 when sharp-eyed astronomer James Christy noticed images of Pluto were strangely elongated. Charon was discovered in 1978 and named for the discoverer's wife, as well as the mythological ferryman. [44][45], Since the first blurred images of the moon (1), images showing Pluto and Charon resolved into separate disks were taken for the first time by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s (2). Speakers of languages other than English, and many English-speaking astronomers as well, follow this pronunciation. Pluto and Charon as viewed by New Horizons(color; July 11, 2015). Charon (/ˈkɛərən/ or /ˈʃærən/), also known as (134340) Pluto I, is the largest of the five known natural satellites of the dwarf planet Pluto. [25], There is minor debate over the preferred pronunciation of the name. NASA scientists have identified a molecule in Titan’s atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere. Rifts as deep as 4 miles exist on Charon's surface, possibly giving scientists a way to examine for further clues. The path through the solar system is a rocky road. The blob seemed to move around Pluto. [43], In a released photo by New Horizons, an unusual surface feature has captivated and baffled the scientist team of the mission. Pluto and three of its moons—Charon, Nix, and Hydra—as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. While Charon is not the only 'moon' of Pluto (since 1978, a total of five have been discovered), it is still the largest and most known of this group. Charon, also known as (134340) Pluto I, is the largest of the five known natural satellites of the dwarf planet Pluto.It has a mean radius of 606 km (377 mi). Because neither object truly orbits the other, and Charon has 12.2% the mass of Pluto, it has been argued that Charon should be considered to be part of a binary system with Pluto. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Christy noticed that a slight elongation appeared periodically. The distance between them is 19,640 km (12,200 miles). The New Horizons spacecraft is the only probe that has visited the Pluto system. Charon is almost half the size of Pluto. Details in the orbits of the outer moons revealed that Charon has approximately 12% of the mass of Pluto.

The collision would have been violent enough to boil off volatile ices like methane (CH4) but not violent enough to have destroyed either body.

He has a crooked nose, a beard, and is very ugly. The same surfaces of Charon and Pluto always face each other, a phenomenon called mutual tidal locking. NASA's Lunar Flashlight, a briefcase-sized satellite, or CubeSat, will detect surface ice believed to be at the bottom of craters on the Moon that have never been exposed to sunlight. The Hubble Space Telescope photographed Pluto and Charon in 1994 when Pluto was about 30 AU from Earth. Before New Horizons' flyby, there were two conflicting theories about Charon's internal structure: some scientists thought Charon to be a differentiated body like Pluto, with a rocky core and an icy mantle, whereas others thought it would be uniform throughout. This finding was made public on July 7, 1978. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) states that Charon is considered to be just a satellite of Pluto, but the idea that Charon might be classified a dwarf planet in its own right may be considered at a later date. [10], Charon's diameter is 1,212 kilometres (753 mi), just over half that of Pluto. Omissions? Naval Observatory station in Flagstaff, Arizona. [11][12] Larger than the dwarf planet Ceres, it is the twelfth largest natural satellite in the Solar System. This indicated a synchronous orbit, which strongly suggested that the bulge effect was real and not spurious., Charon - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). New Horizons captured the photo from a distance of 79,000 km (49,000 mi). It's "a large mountain sitting in a moat", said Jeff Moore, of NASA's Ames Research Center, in a statement. On June 24, 1978, Christy first suggested the name Charon as a scientific-sounding version of his wife Charlene's nickname, "Char". Author Edmond Hamilton referred to three moons of Pluto in his 1940 science fiction novel Calling Captain Future, naming them Charon, Styx, and Cerberus. However, neither indicated the two bodies' individual masses, which could only be estimated, until the discovery of Pluto's outer moons in late 2005.

Charon was discovered by United States Naval Observatory astronomer James Christy, using the 1.55-meter (61 in) telescope at United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS). New data helps explain how Pluto’s haze is formed from the faint light of the Sun. Roman poets and other literary sources call the river Styx.

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