600 Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter has 79 known moons, second only to 82 identified moons of Saturn. That’s a lot of moons, but what if Jupiter had 600 moons? How cool would that be? University of British Columbia researchers Edward Ashton, Matthew Beaudoin and Brett Gladman studied archival images of Jupiter taken over a 3 hour period on Sept. 8, 2020 at Canada, France, Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Factoring in variation of movement across the field of view, they digitally combined images from 126 different viewpoints. Voila – 52 possibly unknown Jovian moons appeared, Further analysis kicked 7 to the curb (known moons with irregular orbits), leaving 45 eager applicants vying for official Jovian moon status. Curiously, all in retrograde orbit. ( orbiting backward in relation to Jupiter’s orbit ).

So why 600 unidentified moons of Jupiter? Their search was limited to one square degree of view of space surrounding Jupiter. Extrapolation concluded as many as 600 or more unknown moons of Jupiter. Lead researchers will present their findings virtually on Sept. 25, 2020 at the Europlanet Science Congress 2020.

Admittedly these moons are small, 800 meters or so, struggling or barely within reach of IAU (International Astronomical Union ) rules requiring one kilometer in diameter to qualify as moons. Stark contrast to Ganymede – Jupiter’s largest moon, largest moon in our solar system, a moon larger than planets Mercury and Mars.

See the source image

https://www.sott.net/article/441048-New-detections-suggests-Jupiter-could-have-600-moons

Not a day goes by without science learning more about the cosmos, 600 possible moons of Jupiter is remarkable. Hats off to science.

4 thoughts on “600 Moons of Jupiter

  1. The four major (and thus first-discovered) moons of Jupiter were named after the most prominent consorts of Zeus/Jupiter, the Greco-Roman god. So it seems appropriate that the planet Jupiter has captured several hundred moons in all, given that Zeus was notorious for shagging anything that would hold still long enough.

    The retrograde motion probably results from those micro-moons having been captured from the asteroid belt rather than formed from Jupiter’s own original accretion disk. That would also explain why they’re much further away from the planet. It’s lucky they’re in a separate “lane” of orbits from the normally-orbiting ones, or there’d by endless collisions (I assume “Valetudo” is a drunk driver on the wrong side of the road).

    Pretty sure Ganymede is actually smaller than Mars, though not by much. It would certainly qualify as a planet if it were orbiting the Sun independently.

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