Jupiter was already characterized by having many moons in its possession, but now the number increases by 12 more, to reach the figure of 79.
These 12 new moons have been found by a team of astronomers led by Scott S. Sheppard of Carnegie.
12 + 1
First seen in 2017, the new moons are eleven “normal” external moons and a “strange ball” of just one kilometer. The discovery was made casually, while objects far away from the Solar System were searched as part of the search for a possible massive planet beyond Pluto.
Nine of the new moons are part of a distant outer swarm of moons that orbit it in the retrograde or opposite direction of Jupiter’s rotation. Two of the new discoveries are part of a more closed inner group of moons that orbit in the overhang, or in the same direction as the rotation of the planet.
The latest find has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon, and it is likely that this moon, the smallest known of Jupiter, is less than a kilometer in diameter. Astronomers have proposed to name this moon Valetudo, in honor of the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter, the goddess of health and hygiene.
Due to their sizes, from one to three kilometers, these moons are more influenced by the surrounding gas and dust.