Astronomers discover 12 more moons orbiting Jupiter, including an 'oddball'

Astronomers Just Discovered 12 New Moons Around Jupiter And One Of Them Is Very Bizarre

Observations were partly obtained at CTIO, NOAO, which are operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, under contract with the NSF.

A rogue neighbor can make life unpredictable. And now, 12 new moons of Jupiter including the weirdest one yet. This tells us something about the timing of the formation of these moon families, which, in turn, tells us something new about the formation of the Solar System. It's more serious than an icy glare from the front stoop. Sheppard said another collision will likely happen during the solar system's lifetime. "It's going to slap into something". Even though these are objects in our own solar system, the observations were challenging.

Jupiter just got a little more crowded.

"I kind of always jokingly say that she's a very cleanly person; she likes to take multiple showers a day", Sheppard says. If you said four, you might be Galileo.

Though most of the moons were originally spotted using the Blanco 4-meter telescope, several other telescopes, in Chile, Arizona and Hawaii, were used to confirm the presence of the Jovian satellites. This odd moon could have come from a stray comet trapped by Jupiter's gravitational pull and destroyed long ago by collisions with the planet's retrograde moons.

Sheppard's team typically hunts for objects in the very distant Solar System, out beyond Pluto, and sometimes spots planetary moons during these searches.

The team also discovered one particularly odd moon in the new batch.

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

The remarkable chance find brings the gas giant's tally of moons to a whopping 79 compared with 62 for Saturn, the planet with the second most. "We know nothing, really, more than that". Just like that, Jupiter has 12 new moons., all of which have been confirmed by other telescopes.

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

This image of Jupiter was taken when the planet was at a distance of 670 million kilometres from Earth.

It doesn't behave like the other moons, which tend to fall into a few categories. Understanding that smaller moons still exist in the outer regions of Jupiter's orbital regions suggests to astronomers that they formed after the planets.

The black-sheep moon boasts a 1.5-year orbit that, unfortunately for big-shot Jupiter, crosses the outer retrograde planetoids-a cosmic recipe for destruction.

This moon, now called Valetudo, moves in a prograde motion, though it is slightly inclined compared to the orbits of the other moons.

Another two moons rest in an inner section of moons that orbit in prograde. And one of them has a very unusual trip around the planet, leading it to be dubbed an "oddball". If these raw materials had still been present when Jupiter's first generation of moons collided to form its current clustered groupings of moons, the drag exerted by any remaining gas and dust on the smaller moons would have been sufficient to cause them to spiral inwards toward Jupiter. These moons orbit in a counter-clockwise direction in the view above.

In the meantime, "we have to speculate about what they [the new moons] are made of", Sheppard said.

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