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Home / Science / The discovery of 20 new moons brings Saturn before Jupiter

The discovery of 20 new moons brings Saturn before Jupiter



The solar system has a new winner in the lunar division.

Twenty new moons were found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said Monday. That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons.

"It was fun to discover that Saturn is the true Moon King," said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science. The largest solar system planet, Jupiter, still has the largest moon. Jupiter's Ganymede is almost half the size of the earth. In contrast, Saturn's 20 new moons are tiny and each has a diameter of just under 5 km.

Sheppard and his team used a telescope in Hawaii to locate the 20 new moons of Saturn in the summer. About 1

00 even smaller moons may orbit Saturn and are still waiting to be found.

Astronomers have completed the inventory of moons as small as 3 miles around Saturn and 1.6 kilometers around Jupiter as well as shepherds. Future larger telescopes will be needed to see something smaller.

It's harder to spot mini-moons around Saturn than Jupiter, Sheppard said, considering how far Saturn is.

"Seeing that Saturn has more moons, though harder to find, shows how many moons Saturn has collected over time," he wrote in an email. These baby moons may come from larger parent moons that broke apart immediately after the formation of Saturn.

  Saturn's newly discovered moons

An artistic vision of the 20 newly discovered moons orbiting Saturn. These discoveries bring the planet's lunar total to 82, outperforming Jupiter in our solar system many times over.

(Image courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science.) (Saturn image courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute Starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio / Shutterstock.))

Seventeen New Saturn's moons orbit the planet in opposite or retrograde directions. The other three circles turn in the same direction as Saturn. They are so far from Saturn that it takes two to three years to complete an orbit.

"These moons are the remnants of the objects that contributed to the formation of the planets. By studying them, we learn what the planets are made of, "wrote Sheppard.

Only last year Sheppard found 12 new moons around Jupiter. The Carnegie Institution had a lunar name contest for them; Another is now planned for Saturn's new moons.

The jury is still not sure if there are more moons on any planet outside our solar system. Currently, Saturn has the most famous moons.

Monday's announcement came from the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union.

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