The recent discovery of 20 more new moons orbiting Saturn allowed it to unseat Jupiter as the moon king of the solar system.
As of the latest count, Saturn has now a total of 82 moons as compared to 79 orbiting Jupiter. The discovery confirmed the suspicion of scientists that there is more to Saturns rings than meets the eye.
Scientists, however, are quick to appease the Jupiter crowd by saying that it is still the biggest planet in the solar system and also is the one that has the largest moon. In fact, scientists reveal that this particular moon, named Ganymede, is nearly half the size of Earth.
In comparison, the newly-discovered moons of Saturn are small, with each one having approximately 3 miles in diameter.
‘One of the more exciting things about these outer moons is that theres always missions going,’ says Scott Sheppard, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution for Science who co-discovered both planets newest moons.
He revealed that he and his team studied the rings of Saturn in the summer using a telescope located in Hawaii. Sheppard noted that there may be a hundred more moons, albeit smaller, orbiting Saturn still waiting to be discovered.
The astronomer also narrated how difficult it was for them to spot small moons around Saturn, given that the planet is farther away, and its rings continuously obstruct their view. Sheppard believes that these small moons may have been once part of a bigger moon that broke apart during the formation of the planet.
While some of these baby moons may stay hidden for the moment, Sheppard said that they might see them if astronomers use a larger and more powerful telescope. The astronomer also noted that 17 of the 20 newly discovered moons orbit Saturn in the opposite direction while the other three orbit the same path that Saturn spins. (QNA)
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