A dozen more Jupiter moons revolve around the gas giant in the Jupiter rings than previously thought. Astronomers have accidentally detected them. Among the finds, there is also a nerd.
Actually, Jupiter was only incidentally in the picture, as US Astronomers scanned the starry sky. But then they noticed several objects, apparently revolving around the gas giant. In the end, the researchers discovered twelve previously unknown Jupiter moons at once.
Now In total, Jupiter officially has 79 moons, according to Astronomers at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system but also the one with the most satellites.
“We had to watch the moons several times to make sure that they were really orbiting around Jupiter,” says Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center (MPC), where all the small bodies in our solar system are documented. It was not easy to observe them because they only measure one to three kilometers in diameter.
In dozen Jupiter moons there is also a “Nerd”:
Eleven of the moons behave relatively normally, but one beats out of line. The researchers call him a “nerd”.
Two of the newly discovered moons belong to an inner group of moons orbiting in the same direction as Jupiter itself. Because they are all about the same distance from the gas giant, they are probably the remnants of a much larger moon. A collision with an asteroid, comet, or other moons probably blew it into multiple pieces.
Another nine moons orbit Jupiter in the opposite direction at a greater distance. They, too, probably once formed larger moons or were captured by the gravity of Jupiter.
The direction of Jupiter Moons:
Between these two groups, the twelfth, newly discovered Jupiter moons move its course. “Not only does it have a completely different orbit than any other known Jupiter moons, but it is also the smallest,” says astronomer Scott Sheppard. The nerd among the moons measures just one kilometer in diameter. It turns in the same direction as Jupiter, like the inner Jupiter moons, but crosses the path of the outer satellites that are racing in exactly the opposite direction.
Other scientists are happy about the new moons. “I find it remarkable that new chunks are always found,” says physicist Axel Quetz from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. Discovering another twelve moons at once is a remarkable achievement.
“However, so far every grain of dust is a moon, as long as it revolves around a planet,” says Quetz. Therefore, one might well consider setting a minimum size for moons. Scientifically speaking, the discovery is no sensation. However, it is good to know as well as possible about Jupiter and the other big planets in the solar system, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Because without the gas giant in the neighborhood, there might not be life on earth. Jupiter, with its large mass, acts as a shield and intercepts many comets before they approach dangerously close to Earth. In 1993, for example, astronomers discovered the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which had entered the orbit of the gas giant and had probably orbited it for several decades.
In his last dense Jupiter passage, he had been torn to pieces in about two dozen pieces, which finally hit Jupiter in 1994. The energy of 100 million Hiroshima bombs was released.