Jakarta – Jupiter is designated as the planet that has the most number of moons orbiting in the Solar System. The moon on Jupiter even beat Saturn, which had excelled until 2019.
Quoted from detikInet, Jupiter has overtaken again thanks to the discovery of 12 new moons around it. The 12 moons orbiting our Solar System’s largest planet were previously unknown. Thus, currently the total known moons of Jupiter are 92, far beating Saturn which has 83 moons.
The moon’s orbit, which is unnamed, has been published in a circular of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, an institution that records all small bodies found in the Solar System.
The observations were led by astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who had spearheaded the discovery after accidentally discovering a large number of previously unknown Jovian moons during the hunt for Planet Nine.
“Jupiter just happens to be in the sky near the search field where we are looking for very distant Solar System objects,” Sheppard said in 2018, as quoted by Science Alert.
“It’s actually not that strange that we just discovered these objects. They’re quite small and dim and hard to see, especially around Jupiter which is all big and reflective,” he continued.
However, when searching for evidence of Planet Nine, researchers use more sophisticated telescopes than before, zooming in at higher resolutions, thereby crossing a wider field of view than any other past observation.
This allowed them to spot small moons that might have escaped detection beforehand. According to Sky & Telescope, nine of the newly discovered moons are quite far from Jupiter, orbiting in a retrograde motion or the opposite direction to Jupiter’s rotation.
It’s not weird. Most of Jupiter’s moons are moving backwards. This movement means they may pass through rocks trapped by Jupiter’s gravity and remain in orbit.
The other three moons are closer to the planet, and orbit in the same direction as Jupiter’s rotation. These smaller prograde moons are harder to see because Jupiter is brighter than them, but they probably formed in Jovian orbits.
Moon visible in 2021 and 2022. Anything near Jupiter that is moving across the sky in the same direction and speed is a potential moon, but confirming that will take time.
Thus, further observations are needed to ensure that the object is still there, or is still orbiting Jupiter. These advanced observations can then also be used to map the object’s orbit. Most likely, there are more moons around Jupiter and Saturn that we have yet to discover.
This article has been published on detikInet, read in full here.