Discovery of 20 new moons gives Saturn a solar system record

An image provided by NASA shows Saturn's largest moon Titan passing in front of the giant planet in an image made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft

That is similar to some of the 79 moons orbiting Jupiter.

Monday's announcement got right here from the International Fine Union's Minor Planet Center.

Our solar system's giant planet, Jupiter, has the biggest moon.

Saturn is farther away from Earth than Jupiter is, so it's tougher to find moons around Saturn. But 17 of the 20 have a retrograde orbit of Saturn, meaning they essentially orbit backwards from the planet and other moons. "We have received several requests to name a new moon "Moony McMoonface", Sheppard said". Future greater telescopes shall be wanted to acknowledge something else smaller.

Seventeen of the newly detected Saturnian moons are orbiting in the opposite direction of the planet's rotation. These baby moons could have come from large parent moons that broke apart after Saturn formed.

"Learning the orbits of those moons can reveal their origins, in addition to details about the circumstances surrounding Saturn on the time of its formation", Carnegie Establishment for Science researcher Scott Sheppard mentioned in a statement.

The outer moons of Saturn appear to be grouped into three different clusters, according to how they orbit the planet.

Two of the moons with a pro-grade orbit, or one moving in the same direction as the planet, complete a single orbit of Saturn every two years.

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When asked why it took so long to find these new moons, Sheppard said it's because they're so dim. The third, and the more-distant retrograde moons, each take more than three years to complete an orbit.

"In the Solar System's youth, the Sun was surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust from which the planets were born". Lastly we have the Gallic group, which are a group of four prograde outer moons.

Others suggested names along Sheppard's guidelines, including the hunter-warrior Fionn from Irish lore and Sila, the Inuit god believed to govern life and breath. The institution held a challenge to name five of those Jovian moons and is holding a comparable challenge to name every one of the 20 of Saturn's newly discovered moons.

Sheppard even added that there is perhaps 100 tinier moons orbiting Saturn's, that are but to be found.

Two of the new Saturnian moons, shown between the yellow crosshairs. Each moon is only about three miles across, which is slightly larger than the width of Manhattan (at that size, it seems like a bit of a stretch to call them moons, but what do we know...).

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

Last summer, a team of astronomers noted the presence of 12 new satellites around Jupiter.

Effectively this time, Sheppard is asking for the moons to be named "after giants from Norse, Gallic or Inuit mythology". Sorry, but Saturn McSaturnFace won't be allowed, as the names have to conform to their mythological groupings, along with other naming conventions.

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