Saturn is known to have the most moons out of all the planets in our Solar System. Until not long ago, the record-holder for the most moons, numbered 79, was Jupiter. However, scientists have now announced that new findings place 20 more moons around Saturn; discovery that gives the planet a new total of 82 moons.
The astronomers discovered the moons using the Subaru telescope, located in Hawaii. They collected information during the course of several years. The team also put to use computing models to detect more cosmic satellites and observe their orbiting behavior.
Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C, was the one who led the research team. The findings were announced last week by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. The facility is in charge of detecting all the world’s small planets, comets, and natural cosmic satellites, as well as measuring the orbital movements of these types of objects.
Saturn is the New ‘Moon King’
Scientists state that the recently discovered moons are tiny, with a diameter of five kilometers across. The research team has managed to find them now because of the more advanced technology that became accessible in the last years. This includes more powerful telescopes and enhanced computing power.
Saturn is a gas planet, mainly formed of hydrogen and helium. It is the second-largest planet in the Solar System and the sixth from the Sun, measuring approximately 116,000 kilometers in diameter.
One of the recently identified moons rotates around Saturn from a massive distance, about 25 million kilometers. To make a simple comparison, Earth’s moon orbits our planet at approximately 386,000 kilometers away.
Seventeen of the newly detected moons orbit Saturn backwards, meaning their movement is opposite to the planet’s rotation. The remaining three are rotating in the same way the planet does.
The scientists stated that a number of the moons seem to have taken shape from parts of bigger moons. Those past moons probably collided with other moons or with comets or asteroids, similarly to how a few of Jupiter’s 79 moons were formed.
Sheppard hopes the finding can encourage the astronomy field to keep learning about how planets in our Solar System came to life.