Published: Mon, July 23, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

12 new moons around Jupiter discovered; hurtling towards violent destruction on spaceway

12 new moons around Jupiter discovered; hurtling towards violent destruction on spaceway

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

Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system past year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter's backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. Though scientists have been looking for this unseen world called Planet X or Planet Nine for years, it has led to the discovery of many new moons inside our Solar System.

They have revealed that "oddball" moon is very far and very much inclined than the prograde group of moons and usually it takes about one and a half years to circle Jupiter.

"No surprise to me that it is hoarding more moons", she said of Jupiter, adding that "studying the dynamical history of such objects can tell us a lot about solar system formation."With a diameter of less than one kilometer, Valetudo is believed to be Jupiter's smallest moon". Kenneth Chang at The New York Times reports that Jupiter was scheduled to pass through their search area, so astronomer Scott S. Sheppard of the Carenegie Institution for Science and his team thought the gas giant was worth a quick look, training the Magellan Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile on the area. Two of them have relatively close-in orbits, going in the same direction as Jupiter's spin.

If the "oddball" guy - set to be named Valetudo after the great-granddaughter of Roman god Jupiter - continues in its destructive ways and has more collisions, scientists think it may even destroy itself. Sheppard said another collision will likely happen during the solar system's lifetime. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust".

These prograde moons lie a bit farther away than Jupiter's four large Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, notes Gizmodo, and are believed to be the surviving fragments of a larger moon that got torn apart by collisions with other celestial bodies, such as asteroids, comets, and even similar moons, in the planet's distant past. Followup observations were conducted from four other telescopes, in Chile, Arizona and Hawaii, to confirm the finds. There's many more smaller moons around Jupiter. Sheppard says more searching should turn up more moons - maybe a hundred or more of the really small ones.

Enlarge ImageA look at Jupiter's new moons.                  Carnegie Institution for Science
Enlarge ImageA look at Jupiter's new moons. Carnegie Institution for Science

And then there's the oddball moon. The astronomers confirmed about the discovery of two moons earlier and rest of them on Tuesday.

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.

The oddball is thought to be Jupiter's smallest moon; it measures roughly 3,000 feet across. They were also the first to realise that there just might be a massive planet out there in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Bottom line: For a long time, Jupiter had been known to have dozens of moons.

There are almost 200 moons in our solar system.

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