In a remarkable twist of celestial events, Jupiter’s short-lived supremacy as the planet with the highest number of moons in our solar system has been abruptly ended. Recent scientific findings have unequivocally revealed the presence of an astounding 62 newfound moons encircling Saturn.
Consequently, the grand total of moons orbiting the magnificent ringed planet has skyrocketed to 145. This significant leap forward surpasses the confirmed count of Jupiter’s moons, which currently stands at 95.
For a brief period, Jupiter had outshone Saturn in the moon department, bolstered by the official recognition of 12 additional moons that were discovered encircling it in late December.
However, with this recent revelation, Saturn has seized the prestigious title as the sole possessor of over 100 known moons within our solar system. Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have played an instrumental role in facilitating these groundbreaking discoveries.
Information gathered from Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
The scientists used information gathered from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, located in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to make their findings. The researchers examined a large collection of pictures taken over specific 3-hour periods and found 62 moons that had never been noticed before.
These moons were so tiny or faint that they had escaped detection until now. Some of the smaller moons were only 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) wide, which is even smaller than the length of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
New found moons in retrograde motion
The new found moons are known as “irregular moons” because they have unusual paths around the planet. Instead of following a regular circular orbit, they travel in elliptical paths that are far away from Saturn. What’s even more interesting is that many of these moons move in the opposite direction of Saturn’s rotation, which is called retrograde motion.
NEWS 🚨: Astronomers have discovered 62 new moons around Saturn, bringing the total to 145 pic.twitter.com/NstWSMgxA1
— Latest in space (@latestinspace) May 14, 2023
The researchers believe that these peculiar moons might have come from a larger moon that shattered into pieces a long time ago. It appears that these smaller moons with their retrograde orbits have gathered together in clusters, following similar paths.
History of Saturn’s moon system
A group of over 12,000 scientists, known as the International Astronomical Union, will likely identify the new moons in the upcoming weeks. This organization is responsible for assigning names and classifications to objects in space, among other important tasks.
This discovery sheds light on the complex and fascinating history of Saturn’s moon system. By studying these irregular moons, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of how moons are formed and how they can change over millions of years.
Brett Gladman, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UBC said, “As one pushes to the limit of modern telescopes, we are finding increasing evidence that a moderate-sized moon orbiting backward around Saturn was blown apart something like 100 million years ago,”
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