Jupiter Moon Count Hits 79, Including Tiny 'Oddball'

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Yesterday, the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced the discovery of 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter bringing the total for Jovian moons to 79.

Astronomers accidentally spotted the tiny satellites while searching for a possible massive planet beyond pluto known as Planet X. The other three are prograde, which orbit in the same direction.

Astronomers say they've discovered another 12 moons orbiting Jupiter.

The Carnegie team led by Dr Sheppard first spotted the moons past year while they were searching for a giant planet orbiting the sun beyond Pluto.

In fact, Sheppard and his team at Carnegie think that this moon could be all that's left of a previous collision in orbit around Jupiter. Lead researcher Scott S. Sheppard from Carnegie Institution for Science said.

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Sheppard said the oddball moon is "likely Jupiter's smallest known moon, being less than 1 kilometre in diameter". Aside from the hulking Galilean moons that stretch thousands of miles in diameter, most of Jupiter's moons, including the new twelve, are between a mile and a few tens of miles across.

The nine new moons are thought to be the remnants of larger parent bodies that were broken apart in collisions with asteroids, comets and other moons.

He said: "It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter". Nine of them have retrograde orbits, going in the opposite direction to Jupiter's spin. They are part of a larger swarm of moons orbiting a long distance out from Jupiter. Each takes about two years to circle the planet. Further out, there are nine moons that are spinning in the opposite direction. Sheppard describes this as "an unstable situation", noting that collisions between two moons are possible due to the 12th moon's unusual orbit. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust."Some of Jupiter's moons and moon groupings, including the "oddball", could have formed from collisions like this, according to the statement".

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In terms of what it should be called, one of the leading suggestions has been Valetudo, the goddess of health and hygiene, and the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter. The solar system's ocean worlds might be the most promising place to look. But its total lunar eclipse is more than ever before than any other planets including Saturdays, whose 62 endorsement has runner-up.

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"If we do find this planet in the next few years, it would be a pretty unbelievable discovery for astronomy".

They would be able to tell the difference between Jupiter and the objects around it versus the distant solar system objects because any objects around Jupiter would be moving at the same rate as the gas giant. Galileo discovered the first four of Jupiter's moons, all huge, in 1610. The trouble is: Jupiter lies four times further from Earth than the sun.

Jupiter just got a little more crowded.

Jupiter's moons are arranged in a specific pattern that the giant planet has worked out over time. So they were likely formed after they had dissipated.

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