Saturn Overtakes Jupiter as Planet in our Solar System with Most Number of Moons

U.S. scientists announced Monday that 20 new moons have been found orbiting Saturn, bringing the total number of moons

Saturn, Jupiter, Planet
FILE - This image provided by NASA captures the transit of several moons across the face of Saturn. The giant orange moon Titan – larger than the planet Mercury – can be seen at upper right. VOA

Researchers say Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet in our solar system with the most number of moons.

U.S. scientists announced Monday that 20 new moons have been found orbiting Saturn, bringing the total number of moons around that planet to 82. That beats Jupiter’s 79 moons.

Researchers say the new moons were not previously known because they are so small in size. They say the moons are barely 5 kilometers in diameter and have only been discovered now because of advances in technology that include better telescopes and computing power.

The scientists who made the discovery, led by Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington, used the powerful Subaru telescope in Hawaii to gather data over several years, as well as new computing algorithms, to track potential moons and orbits.

Saturn, Jupiter, Planet
FILE – The planet Jupiter is shown with one of its moons, Ganymede (bottom), in this NASA handout taken April 9, 2007. VOA

Sheppard said the discovery of the moons can help scientists learn how planets in our solar system were formed.

“Studying the orbits of these moons can reveal their origins, as well as information about the conditions surrounding Saturn at the time of its formation,” Sheppard said in a release from Carnegie on Monday.

Sheppard’s team thinks that some of the newly discovered moons were once part of a larger moon that broke up.

Seventeen of the moons have a retrograde orbit, meaning they orbit in the opposite direction as Saturn and its other moons. All of the newly discovered moons take between two and three years to travel once around Saturn.

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Researchers say Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet in our solar system with the most number of moons.

U.S. scientists announced Monday that 20 new moons have been found orbiting Saturn, bringing the total number of moons around that planet to 82. That beats Jupiter’s 79 moons.

Researchers say the new moons were not previously known because they are so small in size. They say the moons are barely 5 kilometers in diameter and have only been discovered now because of advances in technology that include better telescopes and computing power.

The scientists who made the discovery, led by Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington, used the powerful Subaru telescope in Hawaii to gather data over several years, as well as new computing algorithms, to track potential moons and orbits.

Saturn, Jupiter, Planet
Researchers say Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the planet in our solar system with the most number of moons. Pixabay

Sheppard said the discovery of the moons can help scientists learn how planets in our solar system were formed.

“Studying the orbits of these moons can reveal their origins, as well as information about the conditions surrounding Saturn at the time of its formation,” Sheppard said in a release from Carnegie on Monday.

Sheppard’s team thinks that some of the newly discovered moons were once part of a larger moon that broke up.

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Seventeen of the moons have a retrograde orbit, meaning they orbit in the opposite direction as Saturn and its other moons. All of the newly discovered moons take between two and three years to travel once around Saturn. (VOA)