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Pluto's New Moon Could Be Named 'Vulcan' After Star Trek Fans Storm Web Vote

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Pluto's newest - and smallest - moon could be named 'Vulcan' after a public vote was stormed by fans of Star Trek.

In the Trekkie universe, Planet Vulcan was the birthplace of half-human, half-alien Spock. It is also the name of the Roman god of fire and lava.

But in our universe, it would be a tiny moon circling the dwarf planet at the edge of our Solar System.

The fourth and fifth moons found orbiting the dwarf planet are currently named P4 and P5, and have been since they were discovered in 2011 and 2012.

They are tiny in comparison to our own Moon - P4 is between 13km and 34km in diameter, while P5 is smaller, between 10km and 25km.

Astronomers behind their discovery at the SETI Institute have launched a website, Pluto Rocks, to name the mini marvels. Originally the group had provided a list of pre-approved names taken from ancient mythology, but the addition of Vulcan was approved after it was suggested by Captain Kirk actor William Shatner. Shatner also suggested 'Romulus', but that is already the name of a moon orbiting the asteroid 87 Silvia.

Shatner's accepted suggestion is now in the lead with more than 120,000 votes out of a total tally of more than 360,000.

Voting ends on 25 February, but we won't get a chance to see the Moons in 'person' until July 2015, when the New Horizons probe takes a trip past the planet.

pluto moon

Above: This photo provided and annotated by NASA/Hubble Space Telescope shows the five moons in their orbits around Pluto.