How a Desert Mountain Telescope Revealed Jupiter's Odd New Moon

19 July, 2018, 13:09 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • 12 new jupiter moons

Astronomers have discovered a dozen new moons orbiting Jupiter, including one "oddball" in an orbit that eventually could lead to a head-on collision.

"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. Seven of them travel in remote orbits more than 20 million kilometers away from Jupiter, and in the opposite direction from the planet's rotation.

"Nine of the new moons are part of a distant outer swarm of moons that orbit it in the retrograde, or opposite direction of Jupiter's spin rotation", the statement said.

That also includes one that they've referred to an "oddball", which is flying in the opposite direction to many of Jupiter's other moons and measures just 1km in size.

Sheppard described the 12th new moon as an "oddball" with "an orbit like no other known Jovian moon".

The newly discovered Jupiter moons, with diameters of one to three kilometres (0.62 to 1.9 miles), required multiple observations to verify. It also has an orbit that runs in the opposite direction and crosses the path of other moons, making head-on collisions between space rocks likely. Sheppard describes this as "an unstable situation", noting that collisions between two moons are possible due to the 12th moon's odd orbit.

The effect of opposition is similar to the effect of the full moon seen once a month when Earth is positioned directly between our natural satellite and the sun. They knew that the solar system's largest planet was going to be bright and hanging in the sky all night.

Various groupings of Jovian moons with the newly discovered ones shown in bold. These regular satellites consist of an inner group of four moons that orbit very closely to the planet and a main group of four Galilean moons that are Jupiter's largest moons.

Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter
How a Desert Mountain Telescope Revealed Jupiter's Odd New Moon

Washington, DC-Twelve new moons orbiting Jupiter have been found-11 "normal" outer moons, and one that they're calling an "oddball".

Back in 2016, astronomers reported that the unusual orbits of some objects on the edge of the solar system, far beyond Pluto, could best be explained by the existence of an undetected planet several times more massive than Earth.

Not only that, but when the orbital characteristics (shape, tilt, and so on) are compared, these nine retrograde moons seem to fall into three groups; that implies that each group used to be a single moon that got smashed somehow, possibly a collision with another moon-sized body. "So, the whole process took a year".

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

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

Finding lots of these small moons also tells us about conditions in the early solar system. They're thought to have formed after the gas and dust from the earliest stages of planetary formation had dissipated.

The team proposed naming that tiny moon Valetudo, after the goddess of health and hygiene.

During its full opposition the planet was brightest in Britain on May between 9:30pm and 4:30am BST while in the United States it peaked on May 9 between 1:10am and 6:20am ET. That makes it a powerful tool for surveying the night sky in search of faint objects.


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