Scientists discover 12 new Jupiter moons, describe one as an "oddball"

Scientists discover 12 new Jupiter moons, describe one as an

Scientists discover 12 new Jupiter moons, describe one as an "oddball"

The Carnegie Institution team, led by Scott Sheppard, didn't set out to find even a single new Jovian moon. Given the moons' stable orbits and kilometer-scale sizes, the collisions were likely chance events later in the solar system's history. Sheppard says more searching should turn up more moons - maybe a hundred or more of the really small ones.

The final discovery is classified as an "oddball" as it has an orbit unlike any other Jovian moon. Not only is it the smallest of Jupiter's 79 known moons-at less than a kilometer in diameter-but it has a very unusual orbit.

"As it takes many interpretations to confirm an object in reality orbits around Jupiter", Williams said adding that the whole procedure took a year. "Most of the small objects that helped build the planets we see today were incorporated into the planets themselves, and these moons are all that remains", Sheppard wrote.

The moonlets mostly follow Jupiter's known patterns: Located far beyond the planet's large primary moons (purple), two of the new moonlets belong to a grouping (blue) that spins in the same direction as the planet, all of which are believed to be the fragments of one large shattered moon. It has a prograde orbit like the closer group of moons, but during its trip around Jupiter, it crosses into the paths of those retrograde moons, resulting in an orbit that takes around one-and-a-half years to complete. The retrograde moons take roughly two years to orbit the planet.

Of course, the star of the discovery, presented during the International Astronomical Union on Tuesday, July 17, is the so-called oddball planet.

There are outer prograde moons, as well.

It is further away than the prograde moons, taking about one and a half years to orbit the planet. It orbits in an opposite direction from the other moons near it, meaning head-on collisions are much more likely to occur. "That's a very unstable situation. Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust", Dr. Sheppard said.

A greater number of irregular moons because it tells us about a time during Jupiter's formation when the planet was still growing. Sheppard thinks it may be all that's left of a larger moon that crashed into one or more of the retrograde moons sometime in the past.

Initial discovery of most of the new moons were made on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American in Chile.

Most moons, including Earth's, have prograde orbits. And he realized that Jupiter was right near the part of the sky he wanted to search.

"If we do find this planet in the next few years, it would be a pretty incredible discovery for astronomy". We're not just talking about one or two stragglers, either. Details astronomers have studied Jupiter and discovered 12 new moons.

Following this giant gas planet, Saturn's moon count is 61. What they found were 12 new moons orbiting the planet. The first four moons were discovered by Galileo in 1610. Their existence shows that they were likely formed after this gas and dust dissipated.

Related news