12 new moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered by astronomers

12 new moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered by astronomers


The race between Jupiter and Saturn to see which of the two gas giants will end up with the most moons continues unabated. Jupiter has just passed the ringed planet with the discovery of 12 new moons. That's 92 to 83 for the great Jovian.

Since 2019, Saturn had the lead. Indeed, the latest discoveries had placed the second largest planet in our solar system ahead of Jupiter. This discovery has therefore again just changed the classification.

It is the Center for Minor Planets, responsible for collecting observations of objects in the solar system, which has published this new data on these 12 new natural satellites of Jupiter.

They were discovered using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile in 2021 and 2022, and their orbits have been confirmed by follow-up observations.

What do we know about the new moons of Jupiter?

First of all, they are small. These moons range in size from 1 kilometer to 3 kilometers.

Then they are distant from Jupiter. It takes them more than 340 days to go around the big gas. 

They are also surely small bodies in retrograde orbit – that is, the moons rotate in the opposite direction to the nearest, and better known, moons of Jupiter – which were probably captured by the planet at extremely strong attraction.

In an email to The Associated Press last Friday, Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution, who was part of the Minor Planets Center scientist team, explained “hopefully we can imagine one of these outer moons close-up in the near future to better determine their origins.”

News Jupiter's moons don't yet have a name and, according to Sheppard, only half deserve one. As for the competition between Jupiter and Saturn, it is not over while new data could turn the tide between the two large gaseous planets. 

For the rest, we remind you that Uranus counts 27 confirmed moons, Neptune 14, Mars 2, and Earth 1. Venus and Mercury have none.

– With information from The Associated Press and Numerama