Astronomers Find a Staggering 12 New Moons Orbiting Jupiter

Adjust Comment Print

USA researchers have discovered 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, bringing the total number of the planet's known moons to 79, researchers said on Tuesday.

The astronomers were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system when they spotted the Jupiter moons. It took them a year to confirm the existence of the new moons around Jupiter.

"We're looking for new possible planets and dwarf planets in our solar system, just seeing what is out there", Sheppard said. According to Scott Sheppard, "It was a long process" to determine whether these celestial bodies were indeed newly discovered moons of Jupiter.

The newly discovered Jupiter moons, with diameters of one to three kilometres (0.62 to 1.9 miles), required multiple observations to verify.

Nine of the new moons are found among outer concentrations of moons orbiting Jupiter in retrograde - in the opposite direction of the gas giant's axis rotation. They are "prograde moons", which means they orbit in the same direction as the planet spins.

Astronomers have proposed the name "Valetudo" for the oddball moon, after the Roman god Jupiter s great-granddaughter, the goddess of health and hygiene. Sheppard said Jupiter and Saturn may actually have a similar number of moons, with some of Saturn's smaller ones not yet detected. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust". They're quite small, measuring 2 miles in diameter at the most, and they orbit at a greater distance than numerous already-documented moons of Jupiter.

In was in March 2017 that the team in the U.S. first sported the moons from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

Experts were able to find Jupiter's tiny objects using extremely sensitive telescopes.

Regarding the origin of moons, scientists hope that these would have formed after the planet's formation as remains and they also believe that Jupiter must have attracted all the solids around it by acting as a vacuum. Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon and the biggest in the solar system, has a diameter of about 5,300 kilometers (about 3,300 miles). Nearly all of Jupiter's prograde moons are believed to be fragments of a larger moon that broke apart.

Speaking to theIndependent, he added: "It is as if the moon is travelling the wrong way down a crowded highway".

The discoveries were made more than a year ago, and the orbits of two of the moons were confirmed soon after they were found. Because they formed between the two belts, the moons are probably composed of rock and ice.

Scientists classified the findings as 11 "normal" outer moons, and another that they are calling an "oddball" for its unusual orbit.

Astronomers describe the twelfth new Jovian moon as an "oddball". The hope is that these moons help us better understand the early days of our solar system, so we'll keep our fingers crossed for some interesting discoveries as they're researched further. What's truly freaky is that this set up prone to four moon-to-moon collisions.

The researchers discover new Solar System bodies, and calculate their orbits, by photographing the same part of the sky weeks or months apart.

The team also discovered one particularly odd moon in the new batch.

The remaining Jovian moon has been labeled an oddity, and here's why. Given the moons' stable orbits and kilometer-scale sizes, the collisions were likely chance events later in the solar system's history.