The discovery of 20 completely new and unknown moons around Saturn is drawing a lot of attention.
The discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn makes the planet’s belt with the number of moons bigger than all the other objects in our solar system, according to the International Astronomical Union.
The new discovery makes Saturn have all 82 moons, while Jupiter is second with 79 moons.
Saturn moons are about the same size, with a diameter of about 5 km. However, 17 of the 20 newly discovered moons have an orbit in retrograde, or in the opposite direction of Saturn’s rotation
Astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science and his team used the Subaru telescope in Hawaii to locate new moons. Last year, Sheppard and his team found 12 moons around Jupiter, including a moon with an orbit.
“Through the use of one of the world’s largest telescopes, we are gradually finalizing the moon map around the giant planets,” Sheppard said. “They play an important role in helping us learn about the formation and development of our solar system.”
Two of the new moons, which are in the same direction as Saturn, complete an orbit every two years. They are closer to Saturn than the newly discovered moons. The other moons, located farther away, complete an orbit within three years.
“Studying the orbits of the moons can help us find their origins, as well as information about the state of our solar system for the time being,” Sheppard said.
Interestingly, people on Earth can participate in naming 20 newly discovered moons. The naming contest for new moons starts on October 7 and ends on December 6.
“I was excited to see so many people participating in the contest naming Jupiter’s moon, so we decided to hold another contest for new Saturn moons,” Sheppard said. “This time, the moons must be named after the giants of Norse mythology, Gallic or Inuit myths.”