Fleet of new moons discovered around Jupiter
The circled white dot is one of ten newly discovered Jovian moons, seen against a background of stars and galaxies
(CNN) -- Ten new satellites have been spotted around Jupiter,
bringing the total number of known moons around the gas giant in the solar system to 28, astronomers announced this
The discovery continues an unprecedented flurry of new satellite
sightings in the solar system. The official tally of known moons
around large planets has more than doubled during the past 18
The researchers identified the ten satellites using a large
telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. They also found an 11th moon
that had been "lost."
"It was discovered 25 years ago and then lost. We rediscovered
it," team member Scott Sheppard told CNN.com.
The observations represent the largest number of satellites ever
discovered at one time.
The new satellites are highly different than their better known
counterparts like Io and Europa. They are much smaller, with
estimated diameters ranging from 3 to 8 kilometers.
They have large and highly eccentric orbits. Some go around
Jupiter in a clockwise direction, while others orbit counter-
Composed mostly of University of Hawaii graduates students, the
astronomy team speculates that Jupiter in its infancy captured
the newly discovered satellites from a group of small icy and
rocky objects that orbit the sun.
Astronomers credit improved technology for the rash of recent
satellite sightings. Many large observatories have installed new
detectors that can instantly produce images, rather than rely on
traditional photographic plates that slow down the search
Currently Saturn boasts the highest number of known satellites
with 30, a dozen of which were first identified in the last
Yet there is a chance that Jupiter could gain the lead.
"We expect to find a few more moons when we do another search
next year," Sheppard said.
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University of Hawaii
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