Did you know? Saturn used to be the planet with the most moons in the solar system. But with the latest findings of dozens of new moons, the crown has shifted to Jupiter.
The giant planet previously had 80 moons and with a hefty increase of 15 percent, the new Jovian moon tally takes it to 92. Saturn has 83 confirmed moons. This has been reported by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) since December 20, which published 12 previously unreported moons of Jupiter, Sky & Telescope magazine said. More such moons may well be reported soon. All of these newly-found moons of Jupiter are small and quite farther away from Jupiter and take more than 340 days to orbit around the giant.
However, Jupiter is likely to keep the crown for only a short time. “A search for objects with sizes down to about 3 kilometers across that are moving along with the gas giants found three times more near Saturn than near Jupiter,” the report mentioned.
Nine of the newly found 12 Jovian Moons are amongst the 71 outermost moons of Jupiter, whose orbits are more than 550 days. While three of the new moons are part of the 13 other Jupiter Moons that orbit in a prograde direction and lie between the Galilean moons and the retrograde moons.
How do scientists find new moons
The Sky and Telescope report mentioned that the observation of planetary moons is more intricate compared to asteroids or comets. The reason is the path of a moon is influenced by both its host planet’s gravity and the Sun. Complete monitoring of a moon’s orbit over a full cycle is necessary to establish that it indeed orbits the planet. For instance, the outer moons of Jupiter take about two years to complete one orbit around the planet. Contrarily, predicting the course of asteroids and comets can be achieved with a few weeks of observation as their path is determined only by the Sun’s gravity.