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Saturn is the solar system's 'moon king,' with 20 more spotted

Saturn is the solar system's 'moon king,' with 20 more spotted

Jupiter, the biggest planet and the past record holder, has 79 known moons.

"Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around the giant planets", Scott Sheppard, a Carnegie astronomer who led the discovery team, said in a press release. "They play an important function in serving to us decide how our solar system's planets formed and evolved". Jupiter's Ganymede is almost half the size of Earth.

The newly discovered moons of Saturn are about 5 km each in diameter.

We also learn that these small moons are probably the remains of older, larger moons. The new discovery brings Saturn's total up from 62 to 82 - the most in the solar system.

A number of the moons appear to be fragments of once-larger moons that broke up in long-ago collisions with other moons or passing comets or asteroids, Sheppard said. "Using some of the world's largest telescopes, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around giant planets", said Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science and lead actor in this research. Another three have prograde orbits, meaning they orbit in the same direction as the planet's spin.

The astronomer also narrated how hard it was for them to spot small moons around Saturn, given that the planet is farther away, and its rings continuously obstruct their view.

"These moons are the remnants of the objects that helped make the planets, so by studying them, we're studying about what the planets fashioned from", Sheppard wrote.

It's extra hard spotting mini moons spherical Saturn than Jupiter, Sheppard said, given how worthy farther Saturn is. This Moon has an orbital period of more than three Earth years.

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A count of the moons listed on the NASA website shows that our Solar System's planets together have 205 confirmed moons now. For now, Saturn has the most known moons.

"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.

Following the discovery of more moons orbiting Jupiter a year ago, Sheppard and the Carnegie Institution held an online competition to name them.

Of the 20 new moons, 17 are orbiting the moon "backwards", that is, in a direction opposite to the planet's motion.

All of the new moons are relatively far from Saturn. They're taking the same approach with this new group of moons.

Last summer, a team of astronomers noted the presence of 12 new satellites around Jupiter.

Well this time, Sheppard is asking for the moons to be named "after giants from Norse, Gallic or Inuit mythology".

The contest, which opened Monday and runs through December 6, is not entirely open, lest the American public be tempted to name the moons something ridiculous. "All title submissions for this group needs to be giants from Inuit mythology".


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