Searches with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2012 turned up two previously unknown moonsorbiting Pluto -- Kerberos and Styx (SN: 11/28/15, p. 14) -- and zero rings. Even so, many researchers expected to encounter rings, or at least some debris. And some studies suggest that Pluto probably had rings at one point in its past, left over from the collision that formed its largest moon, Charon. New Horizons will fly past MU69 on January 1, 2019.
In the meantime, the team is looking for hazards along the route. "We're going to do a similar attempt to exactly what we did with Pluto," Lauer says. "We're going to become in the crow's nest and get out our thoughts, because it were, also see when we are definitely going to be okay." The workforce declared the space craft's trajectory secure, and New Horizons flew sailed safely past Pluto on July 14, 2015 (SN Online: 7/15/15).
The group flipped New Horizons about to look back in Pluto, and towards Sunlight. This was a far greater place when backlit by sunlight like motes of dust in the light from the window to search for rings, as dirt particles would burst into view. "It's a very long paper to say we didn't find anything," says crew associate Tod Lauer of this analysis, posted on line September 23 in arXiv.org. Nevertheless, the nonresult could aid scientists know that the contents of their solar program -- and also help plan New Horizons' next encounter.
Nine weeks before New Horizons' closest approach to Pluto, a-team also referred to as the "crow's nest" acted substantially enjoy a ship's lookout for possible threats, says Lauer, an astronomer with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz.. The collection examined pictures taken with all the space craft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager digital camera, looking for ring particles reflecting stains or sunlight that transferred from one collection of images from a backdrop to the next.
Almost nothing turned up. It took the better portion of the calendar year for several of the info from New Horizons to come back to Earth, and several months then to test it, but also the staff is currently ready to contact it: The rings really aren't there -- or at least they're overly buoyant to watch. Pluto doesn't have rings -- New Horizons triple-checked
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kindly browse through the site. An exhaustive search for dust and circles particles across the dwarf planet before, throughout and soon after the space craft flew beyond Pluto in 2015 is composed empty.
That's somewhat surprising, '' Lauer says. But the twisted gravity of Pluto's group of moons might make it tricky for circles to find orbits. Or the pressure generated by particles flowing from the sun could always blow budding ring particles off.