One ‘Oddball’ Among 12 Newfound Moons Discovered Orbiting Jupiter

23 July, 2018, 17:45 | Author: Courtney Reynolds
  • Astronomers find 10 new moons around Jupiter including'oddball

The discovery is thanks to a team led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science who first noticed the moons in Spring 2017. This assumed planet is now sometimes popularly called Planet X or Planet Nine. University of Hawaii's Dave Tholen and Northern Arizona University's Chad Trujillo are also part of the planet search team.

Gareth Williams, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director at the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, predicted that "there aren't any bigger objects undiscovered out there" around Jupiter.

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The nine retrograde moons recently found in Jupiter's orbit go around the planet in roughly two years.

Jupiter's retrograde moons are thought to have spawned from three larger bodies which were destroyed during past violent collisions.

A moon is simply a rock in orbit around a planet, and there is now no minimum size for something to be called a moon. Astronomers believe that prograde moons form around a planet from the same cloud of dust and gas, which is why they tend to have closer orbits and matching rotation. "They also are fragments of the early solar system before the planets were formed, which makes studying them important to learning about the solar system's history". It took much longer for the other 10 to have their orbits verified. The moon Valetudo is in the retrograde cluster, but it orbits in a prograde direction and crosses the orbits of several other satellites.

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A new bumper haul of moons has been discovered by accident around Jupiter, with one of them described as an "oddball".

They have revealed that "oddball" moon is very far and very much inclined than the prograde group of moons and usually it takes about one and a half years to circle Jupiter.

The oddball moon, which they named Valetudo, was captured in the opposite direction from the retrograde moons. While nine of the other moons orbit in the opposite direction, farther out in the retrograde group. "New cameras allow us to cover the whole space around Jupiter in a few images, and this camera is well-shaded", Sheppard said. It has been nicknamed Valetudo, after the Roman god Jupiter's great-granddaughter.

We've got a nice little moon orbiting Earth, haven't we? Because of that small moon's orbit, it may be eventually be destined for an crash. Their existence shows that they were likely formed after this gas and dust dissipated.

According to Wired, astronomers have already searched this region of Jupiter before, but their instrument DECam was able to detect smaller, darker objects that are easy to miss using older equipment.

That seems to be what happened to astronomers working at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, where a planned survey of trans-Neptunian objects was interrupted by Jupiter.


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