Saturn surpasses Jupiter as 'moon king'

Limerick astronomy column- Exploring the many moons

Limerick astronomy column- Exploring the many moons

The new moons were discovered using the Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Jupiter may be the solar system's chief, but Saturn has a huger entourage: Today, astronomers declared that they have found out 20 more moons along Saturn, giving rise to its total number to 82-the maximum for any planet in the solar system.

On the other hand, the remaining three moons remain in the same direction as the planet with a ring moves on. They are so pale, they lie just about at the detection threshold for the Subaru telescope, aa capability atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano used in their finding.

A similar contest was opened previous year when Professor Sheppard announced the discovery of an additional 12 moons orbiting Jupiter, bringing the planet's total to 79. While the remaining one prograde moon takes time as much as retrograde moons to finish one revolution. He noted telescopes play a key role in assisting them in shedding light on the formation of the solar system. "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", said Sheppard.

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These outer moons fall into three categories, based on the angle of their orbit. They are often referred to as retrograde moons. The outermost group, which includes two of the pro-grade moons, has an orbit angled at 46 degrees and are named after Inuit mythology. It may be part of the inner moon family or its orbit was affected, pushing it further out. An astronaut at the Carnegie Institution for Science Scott Sheppard surmises Saturn has around 100 moons. It orbits Saturn at an average distance of 26,676 gigametres.

Saturn now has 82 moons - three more than Jupiter's 79 moons - and each of the 20 newly-discovered Saturn moons is about five kms in diameter.

Scientists were able to locate the new moons thanks to more robust computing power and better algorithms for tracking faint distant objects, Sheppard said. So you can help to name those new moons. The contest opens Monday and will close on December 6.

"There are so many of these moons presently, there is nearly ensured to be one of these moons somewhere close where the spacecraft arrives the Jupiter or Saturn climate", Sheppard tells.

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