12 new moons of Jupiter have been discovered. Among them, one is on a collision course with other

Astronomers have discovered twelve new moons orbiting Jupiter. This brings the number of known moons of the gas giant up to 79. 11 of the newly discovered moons are typical objects, but among them is one that has been named "strange".

New discovery solidifies Jupiter’s place as leader in terms of number of moonsów. As befits the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter has as many as 79 known natural satellitesów.

A team is behind the discoveryó³ astronomerów from the Carnegie Institution for Science led by Scott S. Sheppard. The previously unknown moons were encountered while searching for a distant objectóin the Solar System in the hunt for a potential massive Planet 9 far beyond Pluto’s orbit. Objects this far away are called trans-Neptunian objects (trans-Neptunian objects – TNO), and those które are located even farther is the so-called. ETNO (extreme trans Neptunian objects). Researchers believe there could be thousands of them.

In 2014, the same compositeóastronomerów observed the strange orbits of several small bodies behind the orbit of Neptune. Over time, much larger objects with similarly strange orbits have been spotted, whichóTheir behavior indicates that they may be affected by the gravity of an even larger object. Researchers have suggested that such a warping of the orbits could be caused by an object with a mass ten times that of Earth. One possible explanation for these crazy orbits is the existence of yet another unknown planet in our system. More on this in the text: the Ninth Planet actually exists? Researchers say they have another proofód.

Jupiter in the spring of 2017 found itself in a region of the sky thatóry just scoured by astronomers for a hypothetical ninth planet. – Jupiter just happened to be in our field of view – admitted Sheppard.

Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center – an organization under the auspices of the Inter-American Astronomical Union dedicated to collecting information on small objectsóin the Solar System – used the team’s observations to calculate the orbits of the newly discovered moonsów. The whole process took him about a year.

Nine of the new moonsów is part of a distant, outer swarm of moonsów, whichóre orbiting aroundóJupiter’s bow in retrograde motion – That is, in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. These objects are divided into three distinct groups. Researchers believe they are the remnants of three once-larger parent bodies, które disintegrated during collisions with asteroids, comets or other moons. These objects take about twoóch years to orbit Jupiter.

Two of the new objectsów are part of a closer, inner group of moonsów. It orbits in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. They have similar orbital distances and inclination angles, so they are believed to be fragments of a once larger satellite, który has collided with another body. They circle the planet in just over a year.

The last of the discovered natural satellitesów is the most interesting. Scientists have named it „strange”, although the working name is Valtudo. – It is less than a kilometer in diameter and is the smallest known moon of Jupiter. It is a real oddity and has an orbit like no other known planetary moon – Sheppard said.

This strange moon has an orbit thatóra crosses the orbits of nine moonsóin retrograde – orbiting in retrograde orbits. However, it itself orbits in the direction of Jupiter’s rotation, albeit in a much wider orbit. It takes it about 1.5 years to circle the planet. It appears that every now and then it falls into the flight path of the nine moonsóin retrograde orbits and is hurtling, as it were, against the current. This exposes „oddball” for frequent head-on collisions.

Photo. Carnegie Institution for Science

– It’s quite an unstable situation – admitted Sheppard. – Head-on collisions will smash this object into dust – added. It should be assumed that such collisions have already taken place. Researchers believe that other objects orbiting around theóJupiter’s glow may be the remnants of „wonder” z timeów, when this was a larger object.

The discovery was made using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The telescope has recently undergone a major upgrade, making it a powerful tool for studying the night sky in search of faint objectsów. Several telescopes have been used to confirm the findingsów, including Telescopeóin Magellan located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona AND the Gemini Observatory.