US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
Thursday, July 19, 2018
The team led by Chile's . The observatory is operated by the in the US. The tiny satellites, none more than five kilometres in diameter, were first observed in 2017. Orbits of these new Jovian satellites were calculated by 's 's . Williams explained, "It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter [...] So, the whole process took a year."had discovered twelve of the 79 Jovian satellites, including Tuesday's ten, mostly using a Blanco 4-meter telescope of
The astronomers were looking for planets much farther out than Pluto. Sheppard said, "Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant objects, so we were able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System".
Of the twelve satellites discovered by the team, nine were found to be, revolving around the gas giant in the direction opposite to the planet's spin. These nine new retrograde satellites take about two years to complete one revolution around Jupiter.
The remaining three satellites were prograde, spinning in the same direction as Jupiter's rotation. One of the prograde satellites, newly announced on Tuesday, took about one-and-half years to complete one revolution around Jupiter, and its orbit intersected with the outer retrograde satellites. Sheppard said, "Our other discovery is a real oddball and has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon [...] It's also likely Jupiter's smallest known moon, being less than one kilometre in diameter". The astronomer also said, "This is an unstable situation [...] Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust."
Sheppard said of the composition of those satellites, they "started orbiting Jupiter, instead of falling into it. So we think they are intermediate between rocky asteroids and icy comets. So they are probably half ice and half rock."
"Roman god 's great-granddaughter, regarded as the goddess of health and hygiene." is the name suggested for the "oddball" satellite. was the
Sheppard said, "Jupiter is like a big vacuum cleaner because it is so massive". Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a diameter about 142,984 kilometres. The largest known satellite in the Solar System is Jupiter's Saturn has the second-most known satellites: 62, while has 27., whose diameter is approximately 5268 kilometres.
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