Friday, 16 November, 2018

Ten newly found moons of Jupiter include a 'wrong-way driver'

Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter 12 new moons discovered around Jupiter
Guillermo Lane | 18 July, 2018, 01:41

A team of astronomers reported the recent discovery of a dozen new moons circling the giant gas planet.

A team led by Scott S. Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, spotted the moons while hunting for a possible massive planet, known as "planet X" far beyond Pluto. The scientists embarked on a yearlong process that involved several observations to confirm the moons' existence, according to a Carnegie Institution for Science press release.

Using the 4-meter Víctor Blanco Telescope in Chile, the team really hit the moon jackpot.

Two of the new moons are part of the prograde group, a bunch of moons that are relatively close to Jupiter and rotate in the same direction as the planet.

Scientists classified the findings as 11 "normal" outer moons, and another that they are calling an "oddball" for its odd orbit.

Eleven are "normal" moons, with nine of them part of a distant outer swarm that orbit in the retrograde, meaning they move in the opposite direction to Jupiter's spin. If a moon circles in the same direction as a planet's rotation, that moon's orbit is called prograde. Jupiter's moons are getting a sense of what that feels like now, with a newly identified resident careening toward conflict with everyone else.

Astronomers searching for signs of a large planet far beyond Pluto have stumbled across 12 previously undetected moons orbiting Jupiter, pushing the giant planet's total to a record 79, the Carnegie Institution reported Tuesday. Bob Jacobson and Marina Brozovic at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed the calculated orbit of the unusual oddball moon in 2017 in order to double check its location prediction during the 2018 recovery observations in order to make sure the new interesting moon was not lost.

MS Dhoni booed at Lord's after batting go-slow in big England win
England also will be high on confidence after their win in the second game. "We've played good cricket so far, today was just a bad day".


Our solar system's oldest and biggest planet, Jupiter, has many moons. Sheppard's girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter, and the goddess of health and hygiene. Given the moons' stable orbits and kilometer-scale sizes, the collisions were likely chance events later in the solar system's history. Next out are the four large Galilean moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto - that are easily visible from Earth, even with binoculars or a small telescope. Not yet, anyway. "Right now the only definition of a moon is something that orbits the planet", Sheppard said, as long as it isn't human-made.

Astronomers suspect that the retrograde moons may be the remains of larger moons that were destroyed in head-on collisions with prograde objects. The "oddball" moon, known as Valetudo, can be seen in green in a prograde orbit that crosses over the retrograde orbits. The orbits of 9 other small Jovian moons are yet unknown. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust". The research team thinks Valetudo could be a leftover chunk from a once-larger moon that rammed into another past Jovian satellite, creating the many smaller objects that exist today. With orbital periods of about one year, they also are thought to be the result of earlier collisions.

"If we do find this planet in the next few years, it would be a pretty incredible discovery for astronomy".

It will appear as the fourth brightest object in the sky behind the moon, Mars and Venus.

This was at a time when the Sun was still surrounded by a rotating disc of gas and dust from which the planets were born.

Astronomers group Jupiter's moons by their distance from the planet as well as their orbital direction. So they were likely formed after they had dissipated.

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