By: April Carson
The grandeur of Jupiter is unparalleled, with it reigning as the largest planet in our solar system. But now its supremacy has skyrocketed even further - it now officially holds the record for total known moons. Astronomers observed a magnificent dozen more orbiting around Jupiter, taking its confirmed moon to count up to an astounding 92. This simply adds to Jupiter’s already impressive library of satellites, which include two that were the first to be discovered by Galileo more than four centuries ago. These newly observed moons have yet to be officially named, with their orbits still under investigation.
In September 2021, astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and his team witnessed an astounding discovery while using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. To uncover even more faint objects, they utilized the Dark Energy Camera at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile in August 2022. With its ability to survey a wide range of areas, this camera enabled them to make discoveries that were previously deemed impossible.
The results of the survey brought Sheppard and his team to the conclusion that Jupiter now holds 82 moons, which is more than any other known planet in our solar system.
Sheppard and his team observed Jupiter, along with its moons, in arrangement with additional far-off targets from the Kuiper Belt - a band of icy bodies orbiting around the sun that is located after Neptune's orbit at the solar system’s outermost reaches.
The team was able to identify between Jupiter and its close neighbors or distant solar system objects because the former would be rotating at a pace that aligned with the gas giant, while the latter could not possibly keep up. This made it easy for them to detect their movement each other.
Although the discovery of these moons has only recently been announced, they are yet to be given names. In the upcoming months, however, each one will receive a numerical designation from The Minor Planet Center.
According to Sheppard, the International Astronomical Union permits the naming of any celestial body that surpasses 1.5 miles in size, and half of such discoveries exceed said measurement; as a result, they shall be granted names.
Astronomers have encountered difficulty when studying Jupiter because of its glimmering light, which creates glare and scattered light that can interfere with the area in orbit where moons may be present.
Thanks to technological advances, it has become easier than ever before to study Jupiter and its surrounding environment in finer detail. Sheppard's team is vigorously tracking an innumerable amount of moons orbiting Jupiter, although they require much more data collection before publicly announcing their findings.
Upon discovering additional moons orbiting Jupiter and accurately mapping out their trajectories, we could effectively pinpoint objectives for potential future expeditions. With an increasing number of moons, Jupiter is a testament to the grandiosity of our solar system, and it may have much more in store for us in the future.
Sheppard declared that these distant moons can only be reached by spacecraft when they venture into Jupiter's gravitational sphere of influence. Despite such a challenge, it is incredibly exciting to think of the possibilities that await us in terms of space exploration.
"The whole solar system is so fascinating and dynamic that it's always exciting to discover new moons", Sheppard added. With the newly discovered moons, Jupiter now holds a total of 79 known moons - more than any other planet in our Solar System. This further cements its place as an intriguing astronomical phenomenon for scientists and stargazers alike.
Located in our solar system, the giant planet region is home to the biggest planets of all. It's empty now since during their formation process, these behemoths devoured every last particle that once occupied it.
Sheppard and his team hypothesize that these moons originate from at least seven larger satellites that shattered when they collided with other celestial bodies. It is believed that this fragmentation led to the production of hundreds of smaller moons, as stated by Sheppard himself.
Jupiter's moons are the remains of the disk of gas and dust that occurred after its formation, with most material being pulled into Jupiter's orbit. These pieces from the dawning days of our solar system can offer a direct peek at past eras. Sheppard’s team is particularly skilled at discovering brand-new moons around giant planets in our cosmic neighborhood.
All in all, we've identified 70 moons around Jupiter, 43 near Saturn, 2 at Uranus, and 1 close to Neptune. To put that into perspective - 83 natural satellites are orbiting Saturn; 27 surrounding Uranus; and 14 encircling Neptune.
Researching more celestial bodies orbiting Saturn proves to be a difficult task because of its distance from Earth; nevertheless, the team is attempting to locate and track these moons.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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