Archive for February 10th, 2012

Two New Moons Found Orbiting Jupiter

February 10, 2012

Two new moons have been found orbiting Jupiter, bringing the Jovian family count up to 66 natural satellites.

Currently known as S/2011 J1 and S/2011 J2, the new moons were first identified in images acquired with the Magellan-Baade Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile on September 27, 2011.

The objects are among the smallest moons yet discovered in the solar system, each measuring only about a kilometer (0.62 mile) wide.

Unlike Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons (one of these moons, Io is pictured below), which are visible from Earth with even small backyard telescopes, both new moons are dim and very distant from the planet, taking about 580 and 726 days to complete their orbits.

Scientists had previously discovered new Jovian satellites in 2010, and astronomers think there may be more—lots more. Learn more here.