Saturn surpasses Jupiter to become new moon king

Katie Ramirez
October 12, 2019

The Carnegie Institution for Science has invited, until December 6, suggestions for names of the 20 new moons of Saturn. "These moons are the remnants of the objects that helped form the planets, so by studying them, we are learning about what the planets formed from". Saturn's moons range in size, from bigger than the planet Mercury to smaller than a sports arena, according to NASA.

One of the newly discovered moons orbits in the prograde direction and has an inclination near 36 degrees, which is similar to those in the Gallic group, although it is much farther away from Saturn than any other prograde moons. In the release, Sheppard explains that these moons couldn't have been created in Saturn's youth, when a large rotating disc of gas and debris circled the planet. "Because these new moons are on inclined orbits far from Saturn itself, we believe these new moons were captured by Saturn just after the planet formation process".

The revelation has also now made Saturn, the planet with the most number of moons in the solar system. These baby moons could well even contain attain from greater guardian moons that broke apart appropriate after Saturn fashioned.

The 20 had been discovered by Scott S Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The institution writes that Saturn's outer moons "appear to be" grouped in three different "clusters" due to the "inclinations of the angles at which they are orbiting around the planet".

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The plant now has 82 known moons that span about three miles.

"Finding new moons of the planets is hard because they are generally very faint and thus hard to track year to year in order to get reliable orbits for them", Sheppard wrote in an email to Gizmodo. American Mensa, an organization for people who score in the top 2 percent on the standardized intelligence test, suggested the name "Moony McMoonface" in reference to an online submarine-naming competition gone gloriously wrong, but given the criteria, that probably won't happen. However, their distance from the earth may be much longer, so it may take time to discover them. The surface temperature is the highest among other planets in the solar system, but it is not the closest to the sun.

Seventeen of the newly discovered moons are retrograde moons in the Norse group. Of the 20 new moons, three are in prograde orbit (moving in the same direction as Saturn's rotation) and 17 are in retrograde orbit (you guessed it, moving opposite Saturn's rotation).

Based on the study, the researchers said that two of the three moons orbiting Saturn are closer to this planet than the third. "All title submissions for this group needs to be giants from Inuit mythology".

Scientists were able to locate the new moons thanks to more robust computing power and better algorithms for tracking faint distant objects, Sheppard said. By comparing images over time, the team could identify which dots of light were stationary stars and galaxies versus which were moons orbiting Saturn.

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