04/06/2015 11:08 BST | Updated 08/06/2015 04:59 BST

Pluto's Moons Are A Little Drunk According To Hubble Space Telescope Data

A demoted 'planet' and its moons appear to be having a bit of a boozy time.

Researchers from the University of Maryland have a published a paper in Nature that outlines how Pluto's moons are exhibiting strange and unpredictable orbit patterns. Nothing to do with alcohol.

Pluto has five moons in total. Charon is the largest and it (along with Pluto) is surrounded by Nix, Styx, Hydra and Kerberos.

On analysing data from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers found that two of these orbiting moons, Nix and Hydra appear to be acting a little tipsy.

Co-author of the paper, Douglas Hamilton explained:

“Like good children, our moon and most others keep one face focused attentively on their parent planet...

“What we’ve learned is that Pluto’s moons are more like ornery teenagers who refuse to follow the rules.”

So what's leading Pluto's moons astray?

According to the astronomers, Pluto and its largest moon Charon create 'imbalanced and dynamically shifting gravitational fields that sends the smaller moons tumbling in unpredictable ways.'


The oblong football shape of these moons are also to blame as the effect would be far less if the moons were perfect spheres.

This drunken behaviour appears to have put Pluto on the map as the study's co-author Mark Showalter said: "Prior to the Hubble observations, nobody appreciated the intricate dynamics of the Pluto system."

The research will hopefully give us a better insight into other systems similar to Pluto's. What it does not tell us of course, is whether the moons' behaviour will ever lead to a hangover and what that might look like. We wait with bated breath.