By India Today Science Desk: Months after Jupiter became the planet with the most moons, Saturn has claimed the crown with the discovery of 62 new moons around the ringed world.
Saturn now boasts a whopping list of 145 natural satellites orbiting it, making it the « King of the Moons » in our solar system compared to 92 for Jupiter.
An international team of researchers has compiled a massive list of 62 new moons that were hidden in the past. They used the offset-stacking technique to comb Saturn’s surroundings to detect these never-before-seen objects. The method has been used for lunar searches around Neptune and Uranus in the past.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia said that changing a set of sequential images at the speed at which the moon moves across the sky results in an enhancement of the moon’s signal when all the data is combined, making it possible to see the moons that were too weak. on individual images to become visible when the images are stacked.
« Tracking these moons reminds me of playing the dot-to-dot child’s game because we have to connect the various appearances of these moons in our data with a viable orbit, but with about 100 different games on the same page and no know which dot belongs to which puzzle, » said Edward Ashton, a postdoctoral fellow at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, who was part of the discovery.
The discovery began in 2019, after which the objects were tracked for several years to make sure they are actually moons and not asteroids known to be in the planet’s rings.
New moons belong to the class of irregular moons, since they are It is believed that it was captured by Saturn. and are characterized by their large, elliptical, and tilted orbits compared to regular moons. The number of known Saturnian irregular moons has more than doubled to 121, with 58 previously known before the search began.
Saturn has not only reclaimed its crown for having the best-known moons, but has also become the first planet to have more than 100 moons.
The astronomers analyzed the spectrum of light captured by the telescopes by dividing it into different wavelengths and measuring the different absorption and emission characteristics of the spectrum.
The team suspects that the explosion was caused by an extremely large cloud of gas (mostly hydrogen) or dust that deviated from its orbit around the black hole and was blown away.
“With new facilities such as the Vera Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time coming online in the coming years, we look forward to discovering more events like this and learning more about them. It could be that these events, while extremely rare, are so energetic that they are key processes in how the centers of galaxies change over time. »