03/07/2013 05:10 BST

Pluto's New Moon Names To Be Kerberos and Styx (And Not Vulcan...)


Despite a concerted international public effort and the risk of incurring the wrath of Trekkies everywhere, neither of Pluto's recently discovered moons is to be named Vulcan.

Instead the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the body with the responsibility of naming such finds, has opted for Kerberos and Styx.

The two names came second and third in an international public vote which was topped by Vulcan.


Pluto and its moons. P4 is Kerberos, P5 Styx

The Dr Spock inspired name was suggested by 'Star Trek' legend, William Shatner, but was vetoed by the IAU as it is already used in astronomy and does not relate sufficiently to the mythology of Pluto.

There are a few rules in naming satellites in the solar system. Names that are chosen for purely commercial reasons are disallowed, for instance, and the names or generals, war leaders or politicians are only considered 100 years after their death.

Pluto is the ruler of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology.

Kerberos is a three headed dog who guards the gates of Pluto's domain and Styx is a river that marks the boundary between the underworld and Earth.

Kerberos was found in July 2011 and Styx a year later by the Hubble telescope.

Pluto's largest moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978, while two others were discovered in 2006.

It is thought that Pluto and its moons are the collective debris resulting from a collision between two large bodies billions of years ago.

Nasa said the discovery will help it navigate the space near Pluto when the New Horizons spacecraft makes a long-awaited 'fly by' of the dwarf planet in 2015.

Pluto's status as a planet was downgraded in 2006 to that of a 'dwarf planet'.