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3 new moons discovered orbiting Uranus and Neptune

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Astronomers have discovered three previously unknown moons in our solar system — two additional moons surrounding Neptune and one around Uranus.

Tiny, distant moons spotted using powerful ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and announced Friday by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union.

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The latest count places Neptune at 16 known moons and Uranus at 28.

Uranus and Neptune

This chart shows side-by-side depictions of Uranus and Neptune (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

One of Neptune’s new moons has the longest orbital journey known to date. It takes about 27 years for the small outer moon to orbit Neptune, the vast icy planet furthest from the sun, said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science. in Washington who helped make the discovery.

The new moon orbiting Uranus, with an estimated diameter of just 8 km, is likely the smallest of the planet’s moons.

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“We suspect there could be many more small moons” to be discovered, he said.

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