Astronomers Discover 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

Posted: Jul 19 2018, 11:05am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Astronomers Discover 12 New Moons Around Jupiter
Credit: Carnegie Institution for Science

The discovery brings the number of Jupiter's known moons to a whopping 79, the most of any planet.

A dozen new moons have been found orbiting around Jupiter. Of those, 11 are normal moons while the remaining one is an “oddball.” The new discovery brings the total number of Jovian moons to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.

Astronomers first spotted the moons in the spring of 2017 while they were searching for a possible massive planet beyond Pluto. Though scientists have been looking for this unseen world called Planet X or Planet Nine for years, it has led to the discovery of many new moons inside our Solar System. It took them a year to confirm the existence of the new moons around Jupiter.

"Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects, so we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System.” Lead researcher Scott S. Sheppard from Carnegie Institution for Science said.

All of the newly discovered moons are small and are estimated to be no more than 3 kilometers across. Nine of these moons move in the opposite direction of Jupiter’s rotation (retrograde moon) and take about two years to complete an orbit. Remaining two are relatively close and orbit in the same direction as Jupiter. The “oddball” moon, which has been named Valetudo after the Roman goddess of health and hygiene, is the smallest known moon and crosses the retrograde moons, which in turn could lead to head-on collisions between the "oddball" prograde and the retrograde moons.

"This is an unstable situation," said Sheppard. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust."

Researchers suggest that these moons are leftovers of collisions between space rocks that are now encircling Jupiter. The initial discovery of the new moons was made possible by Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American in Chile. Later, several other telescopes were used to confirm the find.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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