Saturn dethrones Jupiter and becomes the planet with the most moons

No less than 20 new natural moons have been observed around Saturn by American astronomers.

With these new discoveries, the ring planet now has 82 moons – three more than Jupiter.

The new celestial objects were detected by American astronomer Scott S. Sheppard and his colleagues at the Carnegie Institute for Science using the Subaru telescope at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii.

The analysis of the orbits of these moons can inform us about their origins.

Scott S. Sheppard

These moons all have a diameter of about 5 km, and can be grouped into three different groups depending on the inclination of the angles under which they orbit around the planet.

No less than 17 of them are circling the planet in a retrograde movement, that is to say, they are doing a revolution around Saturn in the direction of clockwise.

One of these moons is now considered the one with the most distant orbit around Saturn.

The other three moons are in orbit in a prograde direction (inverse of a retrograde movement).

Two of them take about two years to orbit the planet.

Other moons all take more than three years to complete an orbit.

These groups of outer moons are also observed around Jupiter, indicating that violent collisions have occurred between moons in the Saturnian system or with external objects such as asteroids or passing comets.

Scott S. Sheppard

Astronomers believe that these moons would be the remains of at least three larger celestial objects that would have broken down as a result of collisions with others, such as asteroids.

At the time of the formation of the solar system, the Sun was surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust that led to the birth of the planets.

It is believed that a disc of gas and similar dust surrounded Saturn during its formation.

Scott S. Sheppard

Last year, the same team of researchers had discovered twelve new moons around Jupiter.

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