Astronomers find 10 new moons around Jupiter, including 'oddball'

Rosemary Collier
July 23, 2018

The last moon is an "oddball", according to Sheppard's team, because it has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon.

The discoveries bring the number of Jupiter's known moons to 79, the most around a single planet in our solar system.

Astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and his team were using the telescope to search the edge of the solar system for signs of Planet Nine.

Researchers in the USA were on the hunt for a proposed ninth planet that is thought to exist far beyond the orbit of Neptune and Pluto, the two most distant celestial bodies in our solar system.

"There was no eureka moment", said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers.

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Nine of the 12 moons are part of an outer group of satellites that orbit Jupiter in retrograde, which means that they orbit in the opposite direction of the planet's rotation. Two are part of the inner moons, orbiting in the prograde or with the planet's rotational direction.

Sheppard and his colleagues have proposed naming the oddball moon Valetudo, after a minor goddess and great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter. Reportedly, the researchers said that these moons may have been formed during the early days of the solar system and were probably captured by Jupiter's strong gravitational pull. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust."Some of Jupiter's moons and moon groupings, including the "oddball", could have formed from collisions like this, according to the statement". The moons are small compared to our own and compared to others that orbit Jupiter, with diameters ranging between less than a mile and two miles wide. 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.

Due to their sizes - one to three kilometers - these moons are more influenced by surrounding gas and dust.

"It is also likely Jupiter's smallest known moon, being less than one kilometer in diameter".

Coincidentally, Jupiter has been near the area and they managed to open two of its previously unknown companion.

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"Valetudo is like driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road".

The real oddity of this discovery is the twelfth new moon, which has been described as a real "oddball" for a number of reasons. As they reported Tuesday in an online notice from International Astronomical Union, all 12 have now been confirmed by other telescopes.

Scientists classified the findings as 11 "normal" outer moons, and another that they are calling an "oddball" for its odd orbit. The first four moons were discovered by Galileo in 1610.

There are almost 200 moons in our solar system. Instead, its path takes it into the realm of the nine moons that orbit in the opposite direction.

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