10 new moons discovered around Jupiter, but something odd is going on

23 July, 2018, 17:44 | Author: Rosalie Gross
  • Juno finds some lightning on Jupiter is the polar opposite to bolts here on Earth
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Jupiter's 79 moons make it the most orbited planet in the Solar System. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14.

The oddball moon, which they named Valetudo, was captured in the opposite direction from the retrograde moons.

The team of astronomers, which in 2014 discovered the furthest known object orbiting the sun, had been looking for other objects on the fringe of our solar system.

Images of the oddball moon - now called Valetudo - from the Magellan telescope in Chile in May, 2018. Sheppard is an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Why are we just now hearing about it?

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.

Experts were able to find Jupiter's tiny objects using extremely sensitive telescopes. The astronomers confirmed about the discovery of two moons earlier and rest of them on Tuesday. Those 2017 moons were labeled S/2016 J1 and S/2017 J1.

Nine of the new moons are in a group of more distant moons in prograde orbits. It's small - less than one kilometer in diameter - with a prograde orbit that crosses the outer retrograde moons.

The researchers believe the oddball may be a leftover fragment from a larger prograde moon that split apart from repeated collisions. Since they are still around, now, that means they formed after that gas and dust had been swept away by the solar wind.

Diagram of the new moons split into different groups. Image credit Roberto Molar-Candanosa courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science
Diagram of the new moons split into different groups. Image credit Roberto Molar-Candanosa courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science

The oddball is thought to be Jupiter's smallest moon; it measures roughly 3,000 feet across.

The moon travels in the same direction as the prograde moons, but is located as far from Jupiter as the retrograde moons that travel in the opposite direction.

Jupiter's retrograde moons are thought to have spawned from three larger bodies which were destroyed during past violent collisions. The 12th and final moon, however, has instead been labeled an "oddball" by the team.

The 12 newly surveyed moons of Jupiter include two inner prograde orbits (blue), nine outer retrograde orbits (red), and one odd outer prograde (green). This odd orbit makes it prone to collisions with the retrograde moons that are moving in the opposite direction.

Scott Sheppard: "So it's basically going down the highway in the opposite direction, so it's like going against traffic". Sheppard said another collision will likely happen during the solar system's lifetime. Galileo discovered the first four of Jupiter's moons, all huge, in 1610. It's a rebel. It orbits in the same direction as Jupiter's spin, similar to the first two new moons. "We think these moons are an intermediate type of object, half-rock and half-ice". And now, 12 new moons of Jupiter including the weirdest one yet. As for how many ultimately will be found, no one knows for sure. The massive gas giant began muscling in on the telescope's line of sight and in doing so, revealed a few secrets of its own.

Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed.

Well, it probably won't stay at 79 for very long.

Jupiter isn't particularly lacking when it comes to moons orbiting it.

The moons are now known by their numerical designations, such as S/2016 J2.

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