Worlds without end: Astronomers, while searching for objects in the Kuiper Belt, have discovered 10 more Jupiter moons.
All the newfound moons are small, between about 1 and 3 kilometres across. Seven of them travel in remote orbits more than 20 million kilometres away from Jupiter, and in the opposite direction from the planet’s rotation. That puts them in the category known as retrograde moons.
The eighth moon stands out because it travels in the same region of space as the retrograde moons, but in the opposite direction (that is, in the same direction as Jupiter’s spin). Its orbit is also tilted with respect to those of the retrograde moons. That means it could easily smash into the retrograde moons, pulverizing itself into oblivion. It may be the leftovers of a bigger cosmic collision in the past, Sheppard says.
Jupiter’s moons are named after gods with connections to the mythological Jupiter or Zeus. Sheppard has proposed naming the oddball Valetudo, after one of Jupiter’s descendants, the Roman goddess of hygiene and health.
The ninth and tenth newfound moons orbit closer to Jupiter, moving in the same direction as the planet.
I predict that these are not the last moons of Jupiter to be discovered. As our observing skills improve, more are certain to pop up.
Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652