Jupiter was already the king of the photo voltaic system, and new discoveries give the huge planet one other method to reign supreme: It now has essentially the most moons.
Twelve new moons found orbiting Jupiter have been confirmed, bumping the rely from 80 to 92, and knocking Saturn — which has 83 moons — down a peg.
The newly found moons are small, starting from 0.6 to 2 miles (1 to three.2 kilometers) large, and most of them have large orbits. 9 of the 12 moons take greater than 550 days to orbit the gasoline big, Sky and Telescope reported (opens in new tab). These far-out moons additionally orbit Jupiter in a retrograde movement, which means they transfer in the wrong way of Jupiter’s rotation. Their distant and retrograde orbits possible imply these objects was once asteroids and finally received caught up in Jupiter’s gravity, in keeping with the researcher who detected them.
The moons had been found in 2021 and 2022 by Scott Sheppard (opens in new tab), an astronomer on the Carnegie Establishment for Science in Washington, D.C. He reported his findings to the Worldwide Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Middle, which tracks all stories of small our bodies within the photo voltaic system. Earlier than the moons could possibly be formally confirmed, their full orbits needed to be tracked, in keeping with Sky and Telescope. Now, all 12 have formally been confirmed.
Jupiter’s best-known pure satellites are its 4 Galilean moons, named after astronomer Galileo Galilei, who noticed them in 1610. They embody Io, with its lava lakes and large volcanic eruptions; Europa, with its icy shell and inside water ocean; Ganymede, the biggest moon within the photo voltaic system (it is bigger than Mercury, in keeping with NASA (opens in new tab)); and Callisto, essentially the most cratered moon within the photo voltaic system.
This 12 months, the European House Company’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (opens in new tab) (often called JUICE) is about to launch towards the gasoline big to discover these 4 moons, and in 2024, NASA’s Europa Clipper is slated to launch on a mission to get a better view of Europa.