Astronomers discover 20 more moons orbiting the ringed planet. Therefore, Saturn is now the planet with the most moons in the solar system.
Saturn has taken over from Jupiter as the planet with most moons in the solar system. Astronomers have discovered 20 more rocks orbiting the ringed planet, bringing its total to 82. Meanwhile, Jupiter hosts 79 natural satellites.
Astronomers spotted the new objects using algorithms to work on old images taken by the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
“Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around the giant planets,” says Scott Sheppard. “They play a crucial role in helping us determine how our Solar System’s planets formed and evolved.”
The new-found rocks are all tiny, measuring about 5 kilometers (3 miles) across.
Seventeen of them move around Saturn in the opposite direction to the planet’s spin. This is known as a retrograde orbit. Two of the prograde moons are closer to the planet and take about two years to travel once around Saturn. The more-distant retrograde natural satellites and one of the prograde each take more than three years to complete an orbit.
“This kind of grouping of outer moons is also seen around Jupiter, indicating violent collisions occurred between moons in the Saturnian system or with outside objects such as passing asteroids or comets,” says Carnegie Institute of Science astronomer Scott Sheppard who also led the team that made the discovery.
You Might Like This: “Saturn Is Losing Its Rings“
“Studying the orbits of these moons can reveal their origins, as well as information about the conditions surrounding Saturn at the time of its formation,” explained Sheppard.
Each of these satellite groups is likely evidence of a long-ago impact that destroyed a larger moon that had been orbiting in that general area.
During the last years, Scott Sheppard discovered 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter.
Another exciting news is that you can actually help name these newfound objects here.