Jupiter's79 known moons are the most of any planet in the solar system, followed by the 62 identified around the giant ringed gas planet Saturn.
"It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter", saidGareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. The work was led by Scott Sheppard, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science who studies small bodies in the solar system and the formation of planets and stars. It's also likely Jupiter's smallest known moon, being less than one kilometer (0.6 miles) in diameter.
Two previously undetected moons were found closer in, part of a group that orbits in the same "prograde" direction as Jupiter's rotation.
Dubbed Valetudo, after the goddess of health and hygiene, great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter, this peculiar object orbits the planet in a year and a half and seems to have an intriguing history.
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It behaves slightly differently to the 11 other moons - so much so, in fact, that experts reckon it might be responsible for having smashed up some of the other floating objects that form the moons orbiting Jupiter. "Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust."Some of Jupiter's moons and moon groupings, including the "oddball", could have formed from collisions like this, according to the statement". They're quite small, measuring 2 miles in diameter at the most, and they orbit at a greater distance than numerous already-documented moons of Jupiter.
The moons were discovered with telescopes made in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona.
Jupiter got 12 new moons on Tuesday, July 17. The astronomers are now running computer simulations to determine how the ancient moons fragmented. "He told NBC News MACH in an email "'Valetudo' is like running the highway on the wrong side of the road". There are two moons close to the planet that are spinning in the same direction.
But Sheppard suspects these moons could be holdouts, the "last remnants" of early solar system objects. The orbits of the new moons are marked with thicker curves.
The researchers were hunting for a mysterious ninth planet when they stumbled upon the new moons.
The researchers discover new Solar System bodies, and calculate their orbits, by photographing the same part of the sky weeks or months apart. Valetudo is the goddess of health and hygiene, which can not help with this little oddball moon's self-confidence. Galileo discovered the first four of Jupiter's moons, all huge, in 1610. As so often happens, the astronomers found the moons while searching for something completely unrelated.
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He also said concerns that Saudi Arabia and its partners are moving to substantially oversupply the market are "without basis". Prices also received a boost after OPEC's largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, said it would temper its exports next month.
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