Astronomers find 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, including an "oddball"

Jovian moons' orbits

Jovian moons' orbits

This, as you can imagine, has the potential to end poorly for our oddball friend and at least one of the other moons that are heading in the opposite direction.

"Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects", he explained.

The Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered the first four of Jupiter s moons in 1610. It orbits Jupiter in and amongst where the retrograde moons reside, however, it follows a highly risky prograde orbit as it does so.

"It's like driving in a vehicle and looking out the window, with highway signs flying by and a mountain in the background moving slowly", Sheppard explained. That's bigger than the planet Mercury. No planet in our solar system has more. So hey, why not look for some more moons?

Researchers announced Monday that they'd discovered a dozen new moons around Jupiter, including a tiny one that they're calling an "oddball". Two of the 12, on the other hand, are found in a closer group that orbits Jupiter in prograde, which is the same direction of the planet's rotation.

"So, the whole process took a year", Williams, who calculated the orbits of the new moons, said in a statement. The moons orbit in three different groupings and are thought to be the remnants of three bodies that were broken apart in earlier collisions.

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Of the remaining 3, 2 moons are part of a close, inner group that orbit in Jupiter's prograde-same direction as planet rotation. These satellites are part of a large group of moons that orbit in retrograde far from Jupiter. It took one of the most powerful digital cameras in the world - the Dark Energy Camera - to spot them. It has been nicknamed Valetudo, after the Roman god Jupiter's great-granddaughter.

It has a prograde orbit but is more distant and at a different incline. "He told NBC News MACH in an email "'Valetudo' is like running the highway on the wrong side of the road". Nine open the heavenly bodies were fragments of moons once crashed on asteroids or stolknuvshis with each other. Over the course of a billion years, it may even cease to exist.

"What is the original material that built the planets?" As they reported Tuesday in an online notice from International Astronomical Union, all 12 have now been confirmed by other telescopes. Given the moons' stable orbits and kilometer-scale sizes, the collisions were likely chance events later in the solar system's history. It could be as much as 15 times the size of Earth. This putative planet is now sometimes popularly called Planet X or Planet Nine. Whether that be an exoplanet orbiting a distant star or perhaps a still-unseen planet lurking at the edge of the solar system, it's a challenging endeavor. Because they are most likely clues to the origins of the planet itself.

Even more, Valetudo is very freakish, according to the scientists.

So why is this confirmation so hard? Sheppard said. "That is what we are trying to answer". We already have a classification for dwarf planets. Now, thanks to a search that was primarily for Planet Nine, astronomers have discovered even more - 79 in total. Sheppard says these retrograde moons were probably objects that were once wandering around the solar system. The new ones were found because technology has gotten better and better over the years.

"Jupiter is like a big vacuum cleaner because it's so massive", Sheppard said.

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