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Jupiter's Mini Moons
Hugh Bollinger

Jupiter's Mini Moons

  Io Orbiting Jupiter (credit: Galileo Mission, JPL-NASA)

When Galileo turned his telescope towards Jupiter he discovered 4 moons orbiting the gas giant: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Now, the total number sits at 79 moons and still more may wait discovery. The new total for Jupiter's outer moons came from discoveries made by astronomers at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington, DC. According to the Carnegie announcement, 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered, 11 with standard orbits and 1 with an “oddball" orbit.  


             Orbits of Jupiter's Moons (credit: Carnegie Institution of Science)

The new Jovian moons were observed while the researchers were looking for the "lost" Planet-9 that may be orbiting somewhere beyond Pluto. They are likely small fragments, each less than 2-miles wide, created when three larger moons broke apart in collisions with asteroids or other moons and became trapped by Jupiter's strong magnetic field.

These 'mini-moons' aren't the mythological Planet-9 but they show Jupiter is still a 'king of worlds'.


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