An amateur astronomer found a new satellite in Jupiter: the main thing about the discovery

Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter holds the record for the number of known satellites among all solar bodies

systems. The second place is occupied by Saturn with 62 known satellites, then the ice giants Uranus (27), Neptune (14), as well as the dwarf planet Pluto (5).

In addition, about a dozen asteroids and Mars have two satellites, and more than a hundred bodies of the Solar System can boast of having one satellite.

About 40 of Jupiter's moons were discovered by a group of astronomers led by Scott Sheppard in 2001-2004.

In 2016-2017, scientists explored the areathe sky, in which "Planet X" could theoretically be located using one of the 6.5-meter Magellanic telescopes and a number of other astronomical instruments.

Coincidentally, Jupiter was near the regionreview and they managed to discover two of its previously unknown satellites. In a new work, astronomers report 12 new objects discovered in the spring of 2017 with the 4-meter Victor Blanco telescope in Chile. To confirm the discovery, observations were carried out with several ground-based telescopes, for example the 8-meter Gemini and Subaru, which made it possible to calculate their orbits.

How Jupiter's new moon was discovered

Amateur astronomer Kai Ly has discovered a previously unknown moon of Jupiter. He managed to do this thanks to a detailed study of images of the planet taken with a ground-based telescope.

Now the new satellite is temporarily named EJc0061. As soon as the International Astronomical Union confirms its existence, it will receive an official name.

I am proud to say that this is the first planetary moon discovered by an amateur astronomer.

Kai Lee, amateur astronomer

As for the current discovery, it wastaken based on images of the planet in 2003, which were taken with the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) by specialists from the University of Hawaii.

Lee paid particular attention to several pictures,which were taken in February 2003, when the moons were brightest due to the fact that the Sun and Jupiter were located opposite to each other at that time. During this period, the Earth was between the Sun and Jupiter, due to which favorable conditions developed for observing a well-lit Jupiter.

The photographs showed three possiblecandidate, and one of them was found in images taken on CFHT at another time, as well as in images of the Subaru Telescope and the Cerro Tololo Observatory. The magnitude of object S / 2003 J 24 was about 23, far beyond the reach of the naked eye.

In total, we managed to find 76 observations of the satellite, obtained over a decade and a half, which makes it possible to estimate its orbit. It makes a complete revolution around Jupiter in 1.9 Earth years.

What is known about the new satellite of Jupiter

S / 2003 J 24 refers to the Karme satellite group,named after the largest of them. It includes a couple of dozen moons with very similar orbits and retrograde motion - that is, in the direction opposite to the rotation of the planet itself.

It is believed that they all have a common origin and represent fragments of a larger body - possibly a deceased satellite, which had almost 50 kilometers in diameter.

The main members of the group include (from largest to smallest). The list contains everything except the new satellite:

  • Karme (largest in the group)
  • Taigete
  • Eucelade
  • S / 2003 J 5
  • Haldene
  • Isonoe
  • Kalike
  • Erinome
  • Etne
  • Calais
  • Pazithea
  • S / 2003 J 9
  • S / 2003 J 10
  • S / 2017 J 8

With one exception, Valetudo (its orbitshown in green) all known retrograde satellites of Jupiter are in outer orbits (red), and the inner satellites (blue, purple) move prograde, in the same direction as the planet / © Carnegie Inst. for Science / Roberto Molar Candanosa

Recent discoveries of other moons of Jupiter

Earlier, in July 2018, astronomers discovered 12 new satellites of Jupiter. All newly discovered bodies were small, according to the Carnegie Institution website.

Nine of the twelve open satellites area part of an outer swarm distant from the planet, which moves in a retrograde direction (i.e., the direction of movement in orbit does not coincide with the direction of rotation of Jupiter). This swarm includes at least three different constellations of satellites, which are believed to be the remnants of three larger bodies destroyed in collisions with asteroids, comets or other satellites, and orbit the planet once in about two years.

The other two satellites are part of a moreclose, internal groupings that move in the prograde direction, making one revolution around Jupiter in less than one year, and may also be fragments of a larger body.

One of the companions received the name "Valetudo" and mayconsidered to be the smallest (less than one kilometer in diameter) among the satellites of Jupiter known to date. It moves in the opposite direction relative to the outer retrograde group of satellites, crossing their orbits.

Undiscovered satellites of Jupiter

It is worth noting that Jupiter may have dozens ofor even hundreds of undiscovered satellites. The massive planet has a significant gravitational field that allows you to capture various space objects and move them into its orbit.

Currently, there are no orbit around Jupiterless than 79 satellites and their number continues to grow. All of them are recorded in a special catalog of Karma and are small cosmic stones of various shapes, rotating in the opposite direction relative to Jupiter.

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