Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

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The chance find brings the gas giant's tally of moons to 79 - 17 more than Saturn, the planet with the second most orbiting moons in the solar system.

"We had to observe the new candidate Jupiter moons again a month later and again a year later to confirm they were actually orbiting Jupiter and thus were moons of Jupiter", he said.

Being less than 1km in diameter, this moon is more distant and more inclined than those found orbiting in the same direction as Jupiter's rotation (prograde) and would also likely be the planet's smallest. These distant retrograde moons are grouped into at least three distinct orbital groupings and are thought to be the remnants of three once-larger parent bodies that broke apart during collisions with asteroids, comets, or other moons.

Two of the newly discovered moons orbit much closer to Jupiter and have a prograde orbit, meaning that they orbit in the same direction as the planet.

Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter
Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter

It also "has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon" and is "likely Jupiter's smallest known moon", he added. One moon detected by Sheppard and his colleagues is the smallest Jovian moon ever discovered.

The newly discovered Jupiter moons, with diameters of one to three kilometres (0.62 to 1.9 miles), required multiple observations to verify. That is, it is moving prograde while all the other objects at a similar distance from Jupiter are moving retrograde. "We could kill two birds with one stone: survey for Jupiter moons and very distant objects at the same time". "So that's why we're able to find these new moons".

A moon is defined as any object, regardless of size, that orbits a planet, not the Sun.

Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.

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Jupiter's moons are arranged in a specific pattern that the giant planet has worked out over time. Which direction the moons swing around the planet depends on how they were first captured by Jupiter's gravitational field.

Now, with a new announcement from a team of astronomers, led by Scott S. Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science, Jupiter's tally now jumps to a total of 79 known moons.

In March 2017, Jupiter was in the ideal location to be observed using the Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, which has the Dark Energy Camera and can survey the sky for faint objects.

A team of astronomers looking for a proposed planet past the orbit of Pluto got a surprise of their own when they discovered new moons around Jupiter.

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If the "oddball" guy - set to be named Valetudo after the great-granddaughter of Roman god Jupiter - continues in its destructive ways and has more collisions, scientists think it may even destroy itself. "So, the whole process took a year", Dr. Williams said. "They also are fragments of the early solar system before the planets were formed, which makes studying them important to learning about the solar system's history". The telescope recently was upgraded with the Dark Energy Camera, making it a powerful tool for surveying the night sky for faint objects.

If they had formed earlier, the influence of gas and dust would have created drag and caused them to spiral inward to the planet, lost forever.

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