Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter

Astronomers find 12 new moons around Jupiter

Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter

"These moons are the last remnants of the building blocks of the giant planets as all other material in the giant planet region likely fell into the planets to help form them", Sheppard said. Like the others, they, too, are thought to be fragments of a larger moon that slammed into something else.

Because Jupiter is also a bright planet, astronomers have had to deal with the issue of glare and scattered light affecting the space where moons can exist.

With the moon's orbit set at an angle to the rest, this means that Valetudo doesn't take the riskiest path around Jupiter, but it does dive through the orbits of the retrograde moons, inviting a collision at some point.

They also have a retrograde orbit, or the opposite direction to the spin of Jupiter on its axis.

All the newly identified moons are relatively small, ranging in size from about six-tenths of a 1km to 4km.

The orbits of the 9 newly discovered retrograde moons of Jupiter are shown here. In 2017, the group reported two additional Jovian moons.

Two of the new moons are found closer to Jupiter, orbiting the gas giant in prograde - in the same direction as Jupiter's spin.

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The chance find brings Jupiter's tally of moons to 79, 17 more than Saturn, the planet with the second most. "Cars are coming right at you, and it's very likely you're going to have some head-on collision". Valetudo is the name of Jupiter's great-granddaughter and a Roman goddess of health and hygiene, so it fits the bill. "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". This proved to be quite helpful, as the unknown moons around Jupiter are small and dim. These satellites are part of a large group of moons that orbit in retrograde far from Jupiter. These all travel in retrograde, or the opposite of Jupiter's rotation, while two more, also though to be moon remnants, travel in prograde. "Not because of its orbit, but rather because it's so small".

Most of the discoveries were made with the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4-metre telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American in Chile, operated by the National Optical Astronomical Observatory of the United States. The work was led by Scott Sheppard, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science who studies small bodies in the solar system and the formation of planets and stars. It may sound chaotic, but since "they're at different distances, they don't really ever interact with one another", Sheppard says.

The researchers believe that there might be a planet 200 times farther from the sun than we are (and five times more distant than Pluto) with an extremely stretched and oblong orbit on the edge of our solar system.

The 12th new moon is a bit of an oddball, Sheppard said, with "an orbit like no other known Jovian moon".

Due to their sizes - just 0.6 to 1.9 miles (1 to 3km) in diameter - these moons are more influenced by surrounding gas and dust. We already have a classification for dwarf planets.

Sheppard and his colleagues speculate that Valetudo was probably once much larger, but was ground down, over the course of billions of years, as a result of collisions.

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