Unbelievable discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn

Red lines encircling a ball

That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons.

The discovery was announced on Monday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Centre.

If it's any consolation to the Jupiter crowd, our solar system's biggest planet - Jupiter - still has the biggest moon. One of those newly discovered prograde moons orbits the farthest from Saturn of any known natural satellite.

Astronomers have much completed the inventory of moons as small as 3 miles around Saturn and 1 mile around Jupiter. Future larger telescopes will be needed to see anything smaller.

While it's cool to catalogue all the moons orbiting Saturn, finding these relatively tiny rock nuggets also helps researchers understand the formation of the planets in the solar system. It probably took the scientific community so long to discover the twenty-odd moons circling Saturn is because of the great distance of the planet from the Earth.

A number of the moons appear to be fragments of once-larger moons that broke up in long-ago collisions with other moons or passing comets or asteroids, Sheppard said.

The team behind the discovery includes Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution for Science, David Jewitt of UCLA, and Jan Kleyna from the University of Hawaii.

Gallic mythology: "One in every of the newly stumbled on moons orbits within the prograde route and has an inclination strategy 36 degrees, which is equivalent to those within the Gallic group, regardless that it is worthy farther away from Saturn than some other prograde moons". Sheppard and his team are now asking people to suggest names for Saturn's moons. Of those, two moons are closer to the planet, taking about two Earth-years to complete an orbit. The surface temperature is the highest among other planets in the solar system, but it isn't the closest to the sun.

The submissions for the one new moon part of the Gallic group should be based on giants from Gallic mythology.

More news: North Korea threatens to resume nuke, long-range missile tests

"Saturn is the moon king", Sheppard said on October 9 in an email interview.

Of the 20 new moons, 17 are orbiting the moon "backwards", that is, in a direction opposite to the planet's motion.

Researchers are constantly making new discoveries in a universe full of endless mysteries.

"So seeing that Saturn has more moons even though it is harder to find them, shows just how many moons Saturn has collected over time", he wrote in an email.

Scientists were able to locate the new moons thanks to more robust computing power and better algorithms for tracking faint distant objects, Sheppard said.

Two of the newly discovered prograde moons fit into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group.

The naming contest runs until December 6, although there are a few rules that will surely disappoint the Moony McMoonFace shippers.

This July 23, 2008, file image made accessible by NASA reveals the planet Saturn, as seen from the Cassini spacecraft.

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