Astronomers Discover Twelve New Jovian Moons | Astronomy

Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter

The Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered the first four of Jupiter s moons in 1610.

For example, the discovery that the smallest moons in Jupiter's various orbital groups are still abundant suggests the collisions that created them occurred after the era of planet formation, when the Sun was still surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust from which the planets were born.

In June 2017, the same team discovered two mile-wide moons and five lost moons.

The moons are small, ranging from just one kilometre to three kilometres in width.

The inner moons take about a year to circle Jupiter, while the outer moons take twice as long. Scientists were using the camera to look for a large but elusive planet beyond Pluto, dubbed Planet X or Planet Nine.

Astronomers have discovered 12 additional moons orbiting Jupiter, bringing the total to 79, the most of any planet in the solar system, a new study found. As for how many ultimately will be found, no one knows for sure. "Thus head-on collisions are likely", Sheppard said. "So that's why we're able to find these new moons". Several other telescopes also confirmed those observations.

The Magellan telescope in Chile captured these recovery images of the oddball Jovian moon, known as Valetudo, in May.

One moon in particular caught the researchers' attention.

"Valetudo is like driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road", Sheppard wrote in an email to Fast Company.

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Of the 79 moons now known, most orbit in the same direction as other moons nearest them. Of the twelve, only three moons orbit in a prograde direction, and are closer to Jupiter. They rotate retrograde, that is, not in the direction of rotation of Jupiter, and in the opposite direction. Valetudo might be a shattered remnant of one such prograde collider. Jupiter has the most moons of any other planet. And astronomers have just announced the discovery of a dozen more.

The moons Sheppard spied are farther-flung and tiny, each no more than two miles in diameter.

The team said the likelihood is that the peculiar moon could be the last remnants of a once-larger group of prograde-orbiting moon that would have formed some of the retrograde moon groupings during previous head-on collisions.

The researchers believe the oddball may be a leftover fragment from a larger prograde moon that split apart from repeated collisions.

Finding lots of these small moons also tells us about conditions in the early solar system. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. That is not surprising, because these moons likely formed out of a disk of dust and gas that was spinning in the same direction as the planet as the solar system took form. "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.

Once they finish running and analyzing the simulations, the team plans to publish the results in early 2019.

Scientists proposed naming it Valetudo, after Roman god Jupiter's great-granddaughter, the goddess of health and hygiene.

In the meantime, "we have to speculate about what they [the new moons] are made of", Sheppard said. "It probably has collided with them over time", Sheppard said.

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