Astronomers from the Carnegie Institute announced the opening of 12 new satellites of the gas giant Jupiter. 11 of the detected objects scientists attributed to the “ordinary” outer moons, and one – to “strange”. The discovery of new satellites increases their total number from Jupiter to 79, which is more than any other planet in our solar system, reports EurekAlert.
A group of researchers led by astronomer Scott Sheppard from the Faculty of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution first discovered the new satellites of Jupiter in the spring of 2017, when they were observing the most distant objects from the center of our system. Scientists have tried to find some traces of a hypothetical massive planet that may be beyond the orbit of Pluto. It was hinted at by the indirect signs discovered in 2014 – astronomers noted very strange behavior in objects located at distant fronts of the solar system, which could be explained by a powerful gravitational effect on them by a certain massive body. Since then, researchers from around the world are trying to find this supposed planet, calling it “Planet X” or “The Ninth Planet.” Shepard’s group did not find the planet, but found new satellites of Jupiter. Nine of the discovered satellites were part of the outer group of moons circling around Jupiter in a retrograde orbit, that is, in the opposite direction, in relation to the rotation of the planet itself. To complete a complete revolution around Jupiter, these satellites take about two years.
The other two detected satellites of the planet are closer to it than the first group. They rotate with the planet in the same direction, are located approximately at the same distance from it and have practically the same angle of inclination relative to Jupiter. Scientists suggest that both objects are fragments of the once larger satellite of the planet, which at some point in history collapsed into pieces. Each of these two satellites takes a little less than a year to make a full turn around Jupiter.