Jupiter has an "oddball" moon and we can relate

12 new jupiter moons

The planet is so absolutely massive that it has dozens of moons orbiting around it, by far the most of any of our neighboring planets.

Having a new, bigger camera on the telescope enabled the team to cover a larger percentage of sky.

The worst-case scenario for Valetudo?

Now, with a new announcement from a team of astronomers, led by Scott S. Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science, Jupiter's tally now jumps to a total of 79 known moons. "It's going to slap into something". 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. Galileo discovered the first four of Jupiter's moons, all huge, in 1610. Jupiter is not in the frame, but off to the upper left. Confirmation came with help from a variety of observatories, including the 6.5-metre Magellan telescope at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the 4-metre Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, the 2.2-metre University of Hawaii telescope and the 8-metre Subaru and Gemini Telescopes, also in Hawaii. At the same time, they watched for Planet Nine or smaller, distant dwarf planets in the background.

At less than two miles (3.2km) wide, the moons are all very small, which is why they have only now been identified thanks to the team's modern, sensitive telescopes.

The astronomers do not know the composition of the dozen newly identified moons.

Astronomers group Jupiter's moons by their distance from the planet as well as their orbital direction. Several telescopes were used to confirm the findings. 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.

As a whole they're not so unusual or remarkable, except, perhaps, for that rogue, Valetudo. Nine others were detected as part of the outer retrograde moons.

Astronomers Just Announced The Discovery of 12 New Moons Around Jupiter
Jupiter has an "oddball" moon and we can relate

There are outer prograde moons, as well. Nine of them, found in the most distant orbits of Jupiter, are in three distinct groups, taking around two Earth years to orbit Jupiter. Because it's moving in the opposite direction of the other moons, a head-on collision is much more likely. These astronomers said that, while the new observations were exciting, they needed to confirmed them.

With 67 other known moons flying around Jupiter, there's already a good amount of traffic around the gas planet, as shown in the illustration above.

"We were able to go a little bit fainter than anyone has been able to go in the past", Sheppard said, "and that's why we were able to find these new moons". "Thus head-on collisions are likely", though still relatively rare, happening once every billion years or so. The researchers even wonder if the crashes are responsible for the swarms of smaller Jovian moons we see today.

Sheppard suspects that situations like this have happened in the past.

Even better, they were found as a kind of bonus.

The view from the Chilean mountaintop taught researchers a lot, but there's more to learn.

The 10th new moon is the oddball. "We think they're something in between the rocky asteroids, which are interior to Jupiter, and the icy comets, which are exterior to Neptune", Sheppard says.

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