Inner Moons of Neptune
August 18, 2011
This illustration was composed from numerous separate Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 images. A color image composed of exposures made through three color filters shows the disk of Neptune, revealing clouds in its atmosphere. Forty-eight individual images from a single filter were brightened to reveal the very faint moons and composited with the color image. The white dots are Neptune's inner moons moving along their orbits during Hubble's observations. The solid green lines trace the full orbit of each moon. The spacing of the moon images follows the timing of each Hubble exposure. Triton, in the lower left corner, is the brightest of the moons seen in these images, farthest from the planet, and moves in a counter-clockwise sense in this view. Next closest to Neptune is Proteus, followed by Larissa, Galatea and Despina, all of which move clockwise in this view, opposite to Triton's (retrograde) motion. About 30 moons are known to orbit Neptune, most of which are too faint or orbit too far away to appear in these images. Note that in this Hubble image, Neptune and its moon system are viewed from the south pole.
Topics: Moons of Neptune, Neptune, Inner moon, Exploration of Neptune, Rings of Neptune, Proteus, Larissa, Galatea, Despina, Triton, natural satellite, Planet