20 new moons have been discovered in the solar system! They belong to one planet


Jupiter no longer has the largest number of moons.

Jupiter has always been known as the planet with the largest number of moons. However, as it turns out, it is not the gas giant that can boast about this fact, at least at the moment. Astronomers have discovered as many as 20 new Saturn moons, which means that it has as many as 82 natural satellites – three more than Jupiter.

The discovery was announced yesterday by the organization Minor Planet Center operating under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union. A team of scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) and the University of Hawaii and the University of California in Los Angeles are responsible for them. Researchers observed these objects with the help of the Subaru Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.

Why did Saturn's new moons be seen only now? The answer is how little the light reflected by them reaches us – they look very, very pale in the night sky. Now, due to how far the planet is from Earth, astronomers are able to see those moons orbiting around it that are at least 3 kilometers in diameter. Researchers suspect that the giant has up to 100 moonsbut those smaller than 3 kilometers in diameter will only be visible with the help of larger telescopes.

Each of Saturn's newly discovered moons is 3 to 4 kilometers in diameter. So they are very, very small. Of these 20 moons, 3 revolve around the planet in accordance with its rotation, and the remaining 17 revolve around it opposite its rotation. In addition, all these bodies are located relatively far from the gas giant. Therefore, 2 of them need two years to orbit Saturn, and the rest over three years (up to 5.3 years). For comparison, our moon orbits the earth in 27 days.

saturn moons2
Source: Carnegie Science

Given how the orbits of the newly discovered moons are located relative to the orbit of Saturn, astronomers have assigned these moons to three different categories. Two moons were assigned to the group Inuit (marked in blue above) because they are in orbits with an inclination of 46 degrees. This group could have been formed due to the breakup of a larger satellite. One moon, in orbit with an inclination of 36 degrees, was entered into the group Gallic (marked in green), and all others (circulating opposite to Saturn's rotation) to the group Norse (marked in red).

Interestingly, anyone can take part in the process of naming new moons. All you have to do is enter the competition and read the details about it here. In short, as part of the competition, use Twitter and send the proposed name to your @SaturnLunacy account, together with an explanation of why you chose that name and the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons. It should be noted, however, that the names for moons from the Inuit group must be associated with Inuit mythology, from the Norse group – with Norse mythology, and from the Gallic group – with Norse mythology.

Source: Carnegie Science