Tech UPTechnology20 new moons discovered around Saturn

20 new moons discovered around Saturn

The discovery of 20 new moons orbiting Saturn has been announced in the International Astronomical Union, and places Saturn as king of the moons of our solar system. At least for the moment. These satellites were previously unknown, so you can help name these newly discovered objects if you wish. The Carnegie Institute of Science has opened a contest to name this large group of new companions from the planet of the rings. Mind you, there are rules to filter out some of the more absurd suggestions the internet is sure to leave along the way: two moon names will be based on Inuit mythology, 17 will be based on Norse mythology, and the last one will get a name from Gallic mythology.

The 20 moons are small, measuring about 5 kilometers across, a small fraction of the size of Enceladus, the moon of Saturn that astronomers are currently investigating for signs of life. Seventeen of them have retrograde orbits, which means they move around Saturn in the opposite direction to the planet’s rotation (it takes more than three Earth years to complete one orbit ).

 

“Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing the inventory of small moons around the giant planets. They play a crucial role in helping us determine how the planets in our solar system formed and evolved,” explained astronomer Scott S. Sheppard, team leader.

 

Two of the prograded moons are located closer to the planet and take two years to go around Saturn o.


“Studying the orbits of these moons
can reveal their origins, as well as information about the conditions surrounding Saturn at the time of its formation,” says Sheppard.

For example, if a large moon broke apart to create the smallest lunar clusters and they interacted with gas and dust, they could have been pulled toward Saturn. “In the youth of the solar system, the Sun was surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust from which the planets were born. It is believed that a similar disk of gas and dust surrounded Saturn during its formation, ” explains Sheppard. “The fact that these newly discovered moons could continue to orbit Saturn after their parent moons separated indicates that these collisions occurred after the planet’s formation process was mostly completed and the disks were no longer a key factor.” .

Do we stop at 82 moons?

With this finding, Saturn would already have 82 moons, but it seems that it is not just a phase. Saturn likely retains its title, Sheppard says, and the ringed planet has about 100 moons, but the remaining moons are so small, less than 1 kilometer in diameter, that they are very difficult to identify.

Do you want to name a moon of Saturn?

The new moons were discovered thanks to more robust computing power – using observations made with the Subaru telescope, at the summit of Mauna Kea, in Hawaii (USA) and better algorithms to track faint distant objects and, of course, to the work from Sheppard himself and two other astronomers: David Jewitt, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Jan Kleyna, from the University of Hawaii.

If you want to help baptize any of these 20 moons, the contest is now open and will close on December 6. You can send your proposal by tweeting @SaturnLunacy including your reason and the hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons.

“Photos, artwork and videos are highly recommended,” wrote the contest organizers.

Reference: Saturn surpasses Jupiter after the discovery of 20 new moons and you can help name them !. Carnegie Institution for Science 2019 | https://carnegiescience.edu/news/saturn-surpasses-jupiter-after-discovery-20-new-moons-and-you-can-help-name-them / Contest details are available: carnegiescience.edu/NameSaturnsMoons

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