Stunning Discovery: Astronomers Unearth 12 New Moons Encircling Jupiter - News

Stunning Discovery: Astronomers Unearth 12 New Moons Encircling Jupiter

Astronomers have just found 12 new moons around Jupiter, making it the leader in moon count among all planets in our Solar System. Jupiter now boasts a total of 92 known moons, surpassing Saturn's impressive collection of 83.

Finding these small celestial bodies has been quite challenging for scientists. The brightness of Jupiter adds to the difficulty, making it harder to spot any tiny moons that may have eluded detection so far. Only powerful telescopes with limited field of vision can potentially locate these elusive moons.

Dr. Scott Sheppard, who had previously discovered Jovian moons in 2018, has been studying the orbits of these 12 new moons for several years. The Minor Planet Center recently published their findings.

Among the 12 new moons, nine are located in distant clusters that orbit Jupiter in a retrograde direction, meaning they move in the opposite direction of the inner moons. Despite their small size, these retrograde moons take at least 550 days to complete one orbit.

Out of the 12 new moons found around Jupiter, the remaining three were discovered in clusters that orbit in the same direction as the nearby Galilean moons, but are located between them and the distant retrograde objects. One moon belongs to the Carpo group, which is approximately 17 million kilometers (10.6 million miles) away from Jupiter. The other two moons are part of the Himalia group, which orbits the planet at a distance ranging from 11 to 12 million kilometers (6.8 to 7.5 million miles).

Each of these 12 new moons takes more than 340 days to complete an orbit around Jupiter. They are relatively small and do not have specific names. Scientists believe that these tiny moons are remnants of larger satellites that broke apart after colliding with other objects millions of years ago.

While it is still unknown what caused the collisions between these old moons, a clue was provided by Dr. Sheppard's 2018 discovery of an unusual moon called Valetudo. Valetudo defies the typical pattern observed in Jupiter's moons as it moves in a retrograde direction despite overlapping with the orbits of the distant retrograde moons. Some astronomers speculate that Valetudo is the remains of a larger object that once disrupted Jupiter's retrograde moon clusters. It appears that being in an opposite direction increased the chances of collision.

Reference(s): Sky&Telescope

Stunning Discovery: Astronomers Unearth 12 New Moons Encircling Jupiter Stunning Discovery: Astronomers Unearth 12 New Moons Encircling Jupiter Reviewed by Explore With Us on March 10, 2023 Rating: 5

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