Archive for Friday, May 17, 2002

11 new Jupiter moons found

May 17, 2002

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A team of astronomers has found 11 new moons around Jupiter, bringing the total number of Jovian satellites to 39.

Jupiter now has more known satellites than any other planet. Saturn is second with 30. Uranus has 20.

Jupiter's newest additions were confirmed by the International Astronomical Union and announced Thursday. They were first detected in December by astronomers David Jewitt and Scott Sheppard of the University of Hawaii and Jan Kleyna of Cambridge University using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope, a 3.6-meter optical telescope that sports one of the largest digital cameras in the world.

The satellites are all tiny compared to Jupiter's "Big Four" moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, originally spotted by Galileo in 1610.

Those bodies are thousands of miles across; the newly discovered satellites are between 1 and 2 miles across. The new satellites are thought to be rocky, like asteroids or small chunks of dust, rock and frozen gas that coalesced into planets as the solar system formed.

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