Jupiter Officially Has Most Moons in the Solar System

Jupiter, the reigning moon king.

Jupiter, the reigning moon king.
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Jupiter is a superstar in our solar system. It’s the largest, wonderfully gassy, ​​and now has the best-documented moons reaching 92 natural satellites. The new census became official on January 20, 2023. when the Minor Planet Center realized this last of a batch of 10 new identified moons. Jupiter steals the title from Saturn, which has only 83 documented moons.

As of 2017, Jupiter had only recorded 67 moons. But in 2017 and 2018, astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and his team identified it a dozen before unknown moons Orbiting Jupiter, it brings its total number to 79 – just short of Saturn’s 83. They found three more in 2021 and 2022. Now, Sheppard and his research team have identified 10 more moons recognized by the Minor Planet Center, the International Astronomical Union’s body that studies minor planets.

Sheppard and his colleagues found these newly discovered moons using the Subaru telescope at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Hawaii and the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The team made certain that these objects were actually moons with consequenceObservations with the Magellan 6.5 meter telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The 10 most recent Moons vary in size, but all are more than 1 km in diameter. while about half are larger than 1.5 kilometers.

“Fortunately, we’ve been looking for new moons around Jupiter while our main survey is looking for planets in the outer solar system beyond Pluto,” Sheppard said in an email to Gizmodo. “These moons have yet to be named, as just announced. The Minor Planet Center will likely be numbering these new moons over the next few months (each moon will be given a number once it has been determined that the orbit is known very well) and at that point we will be able to name some of them .”

Sheppard explained that Saturn and Jupiter have so many moons because they are fragments of once-larger satellites that broke apart from impacts with asteroids or other moons. Sheppard hopes that upcoming missions to Jupiter – like those of the European Space Agency Jupiter Ice Moon Explorer or NASA Europa Clipper– will be able to provide us with high-resolution images of some of these newly discovered moons.

“The hope is that if we find enough, one of them happens to be near the spacecraft’s trajectory so it can take close-up pictures of it,” he said. “It is important to understand these outer moons because they are the last remnants of the population of objects that formed in the region of the giant planets when the rest of the material was incorporated into the planets.”

The solar system’s two host titans will likely remain locked in the battle for most of the moons. In 2019 the Minor Planet Center was awarded 20 more moons around Saturn, which Sheppard and his team identified, bringing the planet’s total to 82, surpassing Jupiter’s total of 79 at the time. In 2021 the Minor Planet Center recognized another moon from Saturn, discovered by researchers led by Edward Ashton, bringing Saturn’s current total to 83. However, Jupiter’s reign may not last long, as Sheppard told Gizmodo that his team is currently searching for additional moons around Saturn.

https://gizmodo.com/jupiter-most-moons-in-the-solar-system-saturn-1850070379 Jupiter Officially Has Most Moons in the Solar System

Zack Zwiezen

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