Astronomers discover 10 more Jupiter moons


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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.

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6 comments

  • Localfluff

    Ah, finally some REAL astronomy news! This is what astronomy was all about since Galilei until sometime when astronomers got lost in weird space. Finding and naming Jupiter’s moons. And this while looking for a new planet. Little has changed in the core of the profession after all.

  • Max

    That’s a total of 79?
    After humans go to Mars, this will be the next space race to plant your flag on as many of the moons as possible.

    With rocket fuel just frozen to the surface of the low gravity moons, servicing the astroid miners and the “outer rim” explorers, the base on Luna will be obsolete and used as a waystation/geriatric assisted living /tourist trap. Manufacturing will move closer to where the action is.

  • wayne

    “Outland”
    1981
    https://youtu.be/H8WBk6nrYC0
    (2:45)

  • Andrew

    I wonder if astronomers will have to decide on a lower bound size (mass? volume?) for an object to qualify as a moon.

    After all, planetary rings are just a large quantity of orbiting dust particles. By a certain definition it might seem Saturn has something on the order of Avogadro’s number of moons. Along these lines we might propose a standard for moons similar to planets–that it must clear its own orbit.

  • Localfluff

    @Andrew, Don’t get the IAU started on that! :-D

  • Col Beausabre

    Andrew, I had the same question. Thank you for asking it!

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