Photo: NASA / Globallookpress.com
The team led by Scott Sheppard (Scott Sheppard) from the Carnegie Institute (USA) have discovered 12 new moons of Jupiter, so increasing the number of moons around the gas giant to 79. One of the objects Valetudo named after the Roman goddess of health and hygiene, has unusual unstable orbit. About it reported in a press release on the website Phys.org.
According to the researchers, the discovery occurred when they searched for distant massive objects, which, presumably, are beyond the orbit of Pluto (for example, a hypothetical ninth planet). Jupiter with its satellites was near the field of view of astronomical instruments, which has made possible the observation of a previously unknown moons of the giant planet.
Astronomers have discovered 12 new satellites, including a small object with a diameter of a kilometer. Nine moons, forming a group that are likely fragments of a large celestial body, moving in a retrograde orbit, that is, in the direction opposite the direction of rotation of Jupiter around its axis. Another group is formed by two satellites that are closer to the gas giant, and their rotation matches the rotation of the planet (pregradnaya orbit).
Last moon, which is probably the smallest known moons of Jupiter, also has prohladnoy orbit which crosses the orbits of the retrograde objects. There is a high risk that Valetudo collide with another heavenly body and will cease to exist. Scientists believe that it is a fragment of a large programnogo object, the destruction of which led to the emergence of retrograde moons.
Video, photo All from Russia.