Jupiter: Researchers Discover 12 More Moons, Planet Sets New Moon Record
There's a new moon champion in our solar system. Astronomers recently discovered 12 new moons orbiting around Jupiter, putting the gas giant's moon total at 92. That new sum eclipses Saturn's 83 confirmed moons, pushing into first place. Using data captured in 2021 and 2022, a research team led by Carnegie Institution's Scott Sheppard were able to confirm data and get the moons cemented on a register at the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.
Despite orbiting Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, the 12 new moons pale in size compared to our Moon. The new moons range anywhere from 0.6 miles to two miles across, while our Moon has a diameter of over 2,100 miles.
"I hope we can image one of these outer moons close-up in the near future to better determine their origins," Sheppard said in an email interview with the Associated Press. The researcher and his team posted their findings online for the public to view.
When it comes to other planets in our system, Uranus has 27 moons while Neptune has 14. Mars has a pair of moons, then Earth completes the list with a single celestial satellite. Neither Venus or Mercury have a moon orbiting their bodies.
The team, and other scientists around the world, will likely use the Webb Telescope to further research the moons and potentially find more around subsequent planets.
What is the Webb Space Telescope?
In short, the Webb observatory is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Using its new technology, scientists have been able to examine parts of the known universe previously unobservable.
"If you think about that, this is farther than humanity has ever moved before," NASA administrator Bill Nelson previously said of the JWST. "And we're only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do. It's going to explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to our own."
"Our goals for Webb's first images and data are both to showcase the telescope's powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come," astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI, added of the images. "They are sure to deliver a long-awaited 'wow' for astronomers and the public."
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