Published: Sat, October 12, 2019
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DISCOVERY | 20 new moons puts Saturn ahead of Jupiter

DISCOVERY | 20 new moons puts Saturn ahead of Jupiter

That is similar to some of the 79 moons orbiting Jupiter. With that, Carnegie Institution has launched moon-naming online competition, just like what they did with the 12 recently discovered moons in Jupiter. "They play an important function in serving to us decide how our solar system's planets formed and evolved". In fact, scientists reveal that this particular moon, named Ganymede, is almost half the size of Earth.

With help from a major telescope and a little investigator work, space experts have found 20 new moons in orbit around Saturn.

Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around the giant planets. Scientists believe that Saturn may have another hundred small moons. According to Sheppard, "This kind of grouping of outer moons is also seen around Jupiter, indicating violent collisions occurred between moons in the Saturnian system or with outside objects such as passing asteroids or comets".

Although in the case of the highest number of moons, Saturn may have surpassed Jupiter, but the largest moon still is with Jupiter. "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. The other three circle in the same direction that Saturn rotates.

Two of the moons with a pro-grade orbit, or one moving in the same direction as the planet, complete a single orbit of Saturn every two years.

"These moons are the pieces of the objects that supported to form the planets, so by studying them, we're learning about what the planets formed from", Sheppard wrote. Of those, two moons are closer to the planet, taking about two Earth-years to complete an orbit.


Saturn is the sixth planet in the solar system, sitting between the enormous Jupiter and the ice planet Uranus. Sheppard and his colleagues suspect there are 100 moons around Saturn larger than one mile in size, "but future larger telescopes will be needed to find these smaller and thus fainter moons".

Fifty-three of Saturn's moons are confirmed and named, while 29 are awaiting confirmation "of discovery and official naming", according to NASA.

All of the new moons are relatively far from Saturn.

The Carnegie Institution has announced a contest to name the new moons based on various mythologies. The most extreme of these new moons, designated S5613a2 m, requires 1,413 days, or 5.3 years, to revolve around Saturn, making it the farthest known moon from the gas giant. They're all at roughly the same distance from the planet, putting them in the Norse group of moons.

The contest which opened on Monday will close on December 6, 2019. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Inuit mythology.

Inuit mythology: "Two of the newly stumbled on prograde moons fit real into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group".

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