Astronomers have made a stunning discovery of 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, bringing the total number of the planet’s satellites to a record-breaking 92. As a result, Jupiter rose to the position of having the most moons in our solar system. With 83 moons, Saturn, which was formerly the planet with the most moons, is now ranked second.
Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution and a member of the team said that the list kept by the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union lately included the moons of Jupiter.
In 2021 and 2022, scientists used telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to find the moons, and subsequent studies confirmed their orbits.
The size of the recently discovered moons, according to Sheppard, ranges from 0.6 miles to 2 miles (1 kilometre to 3 kilometres).
In a message delivered on Friday, he wrote, “I hope we can picture one of these outer moons close-up in the near future to better understand their origins.
In order to explore Jupiter and research some of its largest and iciest moons, a spacecraft will be launched by the European Space Agency there in April.
The one moon of Jupiter, Europa, is thought to contain an ocean beneath its icy surface and will be explored by NASA’s Europa Clipper next year.
Sheppard intends to continue bringing the number of moons orbiting the two gas giants up after discovering numerous moons surrounding Saturn a few years ago and taking part in the discovery of 70 moons orbiting Jupiter so far.
According to Sheppard, Jupiter and Saturn have a large number of minor moons that are thought to be pieces of the larger moons that formerly existed and eventually smashed with one another, asteroids, or comets.
The situation is the same for Neptune and Uranus, but because of their great distance from Earth, it is even more difficult to see their moons.
Currently, there are 27 confirmed moons for Uranus, 14, for Neptune, 2, for Mars, and 1 for Earth. There are no satellites orbiting Venus or Mercury.
Jupiter’s recently discovered moons have not yet been given names. Only a few of the moons, Sheppard claimed, are large enough to receive names—at least one mile (1.5 kilometres) in diameter.
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