12 new moons discovered around Jupiter

Astronomers find 12 new moons around Jupiter

12 new moons discovered around Jupiter

It's more serious than an icy glare from the front stoop.

"This is an unstable situation", said USA astronomer Dr Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, who led the discovery team. "It's going to slap into something".

Many prior studies have suggested that Jupiter has greatly influenced the evolution of the solar system. Which helps explain why Jupiter has so many moons in the first place.

"The giant planets formed out of material that used to be in that region". Jupiter is not in the frame and is off to the upper left.

The team had planned to use the observatory's Blanco four-meter telescope to scout for objects way out, beyond Pluto, and they also chose to train their gaze on Jupiter's neighborhood in the night sky. He has also been involved in the discovery of 25 of Saturn's known moons, two moons around Uranus and one orbiting Neptune, two comets, and over a dozen minor planets, which includes the farthest known object of the solar system - 2012 VP113(nicknamed Biden).

Dr. Sheppard and colleagues first spotted the moons in the spring of 2017 while they were looking for distant Solar System objects as part of their hunt for a hypothetical Planet Nine.

One of the 12 newly discovered moons orbiting Jupiter, dubbed Valetudo, someday could be obliterated in a head-on collision with a another moon thanks to its oddball orbit.

The current team of astronomers did not set out to find new moons of Jupiter, but was scanning the skies for planets beyond Pluto when the moons fell into the path of their telescope.

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The researchers were searching for the proposed "Planet X" or "Planet 9", which astronomers believe exists and could account for the way distant objects orbit in a similar manner.

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

Nine of the moons are part of an outer "swarm" that orbit in the opposite, or retrograde, direction of Jupiter's spin, taking about two years to complete one trip around the planet. The largest among them are the Galilean satellites-Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto-large moons that orbit close to the planet. It is more distant (for good reason!), more inclined, takes longer to orbit Jupiter than its siblings, and crosses the outer retrograde moons. Of the 12 latest moons to join Jupiter's family, it's a maverick whose odd orbit may give astronomers crucial insights to understanding how the moons of Jupiter came to be. They also compared the prevalence of Jupiter-like worlds around systems without super-Earths. That puts it on a possible collision course with a retrograde moon.

Team leader Dr Scott Sheppard said: 'It's a real oddball.

But the discovery might be short-lived because Valetudo faces destruction in head-on collisions.

Once they finish running and analyzing the simulations, the team plans to publish the results in early 2019. After verification, they are being reported today by the International Astronomical Union, based in Paris. The best forecast, for now, is some time in the next billion years.

But what's particularly wild about these newly discovered moons is that researchers weren't even looking for them.

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