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How you can help name Pluto's two new moons
P4 and P5 need new names. How does Cerberus sound? Or Styx?
 
A stone carving depicts Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the underworld.
A stone carving depicts Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the underworld. CC BY: Arenamontanus

Technically speaking, Pluto isn't a full-fledged planet, but researchers from the Seti Institute are eliciting names for two of the itty-bitty dwarf planet's recently discovered moons, P4 and P5, which researchers found using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Pluto is the Roman name for the Greek god Hades, who as anyone who's ever caught an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess will tell you is the lord of the underworld. Sticking with tradition, Seti researchers revealed a shortlist of Roman- and Greek-inspired names they're considering for the moons, which you can vote for through a new website.

A few of the names worth mentioning: There's Cerberus, named for the giant three-headed dog who guards the underworld. Heracles (Hercules), the half-god hydra-killer who emerged out of the underworld unscathed. Persephone, a goddess kidnapped by Hades to rule at his side. Eurydice, the wife of the prophet Orpheus. And Styx, the terrible '80s band with one really great karaoke song.

If none of the suggested names tickle your fancy, use the write-in form to propose your own. Your suggestions still have to come from Roman or Greek mythology. But hurry before Stephen Colbert, who wields an influence that might even sway space scientists, gets wind of this and launches a crusade to name both space rocks after himself. You have until Feb. 25. 

 

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