Ten new moons found orbiting around Jupiter

Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter

Putting out the trash a day early, playing loud music at all hours, never getting around to fixing that fence.

The discovery of these moons came from a totally different search for new solar system bodies. 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.

The worst-case scenario for Valetudo? Scott S. Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science led the astronomy team. "It's going to slap into something".

The solar system's largest planet has some "new" neighbors.

The curious find might shed light on how many of Jupiter's current moons were formed. "Magnificent desolation", Sheppard says, is the ideal. Galileo discovered the four biggest ones back in the 17th century, and a lot of smaller ones have been found as telescopes and techniques have improved.

As part of that search, Sheppard was using the 4-meter Víctor Blanco Telescope in Chile in March of past year and realized that Jupiter was right near the part of the sky he wanted to search.

They are also believed to be fragments of a larger moon that was broken apart and take just under a year to circle Jupiter. Sheppard's team speculates Valetudo could be a remnant of a collision between one or more moons.

Following this giant gas planet, Saturn's moon count is 61.

SHEPPARD: Maybe there would have to be something - new definition of small - for the small moons.

This screencapture shows the prograde moons of Jupiter, including the two newest discoveries.

Researchers discover a dozen new moons of Jupiter
Jupiter has a dozen new moons, including one 'oddball'

As a whole they're not so unusual or remarkable, except, perhaps, for that rogue, Valetudo.

Two new moons are closer in, go the right way, and take about an Earth year for one orbit.

If we were to host a system-wide beauty contest among the planets and accepted natural satellites as a valid skill, Jupiter would have a pretty unfair advantage.

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, was hardly short of moons before the latest findings. Confirmation of the moons required multiple observations, and those data enabled a calculation of the moons' orbits.

This means, unlike those closer to Jupiter, it crosses the outer retrograde moons.

In the meantime, "we have to speculate about what they [the new moons] are made of", Sheppard said. It's in an orbit that takes it directly through the cluster of retrograde moons.

"It's like driving a vehicle on the wrong side of the highway", Sheppard said in a statement. "Thus head-on collisions are likely", though still relatively rare, happening once every billion years or so. "By looking at these outer moons", he said, "we can get an insight into what the objects were like that ended up forming the planets we see today".

The study was published in the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Electronic Circular. The new ones were found because technology has gotten better and better over the years.

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

Astronomers accidentally spotted the tiny satellites while searching for a possible massive planet beyond pluto known as Planet X.

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