Scientists Spot Two More ‘Lost Moons’ around Jupiter

Jupiter and its moonsAstronomers discovered two new moons around Jupiter, which they dubbed “moonlets” for their small size. With the new discovery, the gas giant now sports 64 moons, and 5 so-called “lost moons”.

Scientists named the newly found space rocks S/2016 J 1 and S/2017 J 1, with S being the short form of “satellite” and J standing for “Jupiter.” The names, though, are temporary. Although they’re only one mile wide, the moons are moving away from the planet around its axis. Researchers noted that their degree of inclination suggest they somehow glued to Jupiter after getting too close to its gravitational field.

Researchers also found that the two moons move along an extremely elongated orbit which is why they tend to move farther away from the host planet. Other moons of Jupiter have orbits that are so hard to predict that researchers cannot tell exactly where those moons are. These types of moons are known among scientists as “lost moons”.

The two new natural satellites were spotted by a group of researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science with help from the Chile-based Magellan-Baade reflector. The discovery took every scientists by surprise because they were scouring the sky for space rocks in the outer solar system at the moment of the discovery.

There May Be More ‘Lost Moons’ Out There

Dr Scott Sheppard who led the team that made the discovery said the research team was looking for very distant objects such as the mysterious planet X when they spotted the moonlets. His team believes that Jupiter may have more ‘lost moons’. So far, they were able to detect only five, and the hunt for others is ongoing.

Jupiter is the most massive and oldest planet in our solar system, and has the second-worst weather, after Venus. Juno probe has snapped photos of swirling hurricanes above the Jupiter’s poles, but Venus is known for its clouds of sulfuric acid.
Image Source: Flickr