A team of astronomers from the Carnegie Institution for Science have discovered 10 previously unknown moons around Jupiter, bringing the planet’s total amount up to 79.
Researchers first found the new bodies while searching for distant objects at the edge of our solar system. During their study they noticed a handful of never-before-seen objects near Jupiter. Intrigued, they then tracked the bodies for a year and confirmed them as moons.
Two of the natural satellites orbit close to Jupiter. They are “prograde moons,” which means they orbit in the same direction as the planet spins. As a result, astronomers believe they are pieces of a larger moon that broke apart many years ago.
Seven of the new moons orbit further away and in the opposite direction, which means they are retrograde moons. The team believes those were also once apart of a much larger body.
The tenth moon is strange in that it orbits on the same path as the retrograde moons but orbits in the opposite direction. That suggests it is the remnant of a random object that Jupiter sucked in with its gravity, such as a rogue comet.
“This just shows how chaotic our Solar System was in the past,” said team leader Scott Sheppard, a researcher at the Carnegie Institute for Science, according to Gizmodo. These outer moons of Jupiter are remnants of chaos.”
Scientists just recently discovered the moons because telescope technology has come a long way within the last decade or two. That has enabled researchers to take much clearer pictures of the cosmos.
In fact, as technology continues to improve there is a chance even more moons could be found around Jupiter. That may one day help scientists understand the planet’s history and perhaps gain insight into the way other gas giants first formed.
“By looking at these outer moons we can get an insight into what the objects were like that ended up forming the planets we see today,” said Sheppard, according to The Washington Post.