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Jupiter Now Has 69 Known Moons

Jun 15, 2017 01:42 PM EDT

The biggest planet in the Solar System, the gas planet Jupiter apparently has 69 moons, a new study revealed. 

The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism shared that the study was originally conducted to survey distant objects within the Kuiper Belt and beyond Pluto. The study was also aimed at looking at new planets like Planet X. It just so happened that Jupiter is within the area while they are conducting the research in March 2016 and March 2017.

The research imaged fields near Jupiter. This gave them a chance to explore the regions near the giant gas planet and look for its moons. The moons were in the foreground and they look distant from the objects that are beyond Jupiter. During this time, the identified moons were detected as well as a ton of new ones. Some of the 69 moons were believed to have been lost and some were even seen for the first time.

"We imaged several fields that were very close to Jupiter, which allowed us to look for Jupiter moons in the foreground while at the same time look for very distance objects that were well beyond Jupiter in the background," astronomers Scott Sheppard said.

In March 2016 and 2017 S/2016 J1 and S/2017 J1 were observed respectively. It was confirmed that these are not lost moons making them two new moons that made up the total of 69. There could still be new Jupiter moons on detected in their observation but the researchers wanted to reobserve and confirm them first in 2018 to know for sure.

In 2003, there were several known Jupiter moons and were believed to have been lost and were never seen again until today. There is too little information known about their orbits making it difficult to say where the moons are positioned. In 2016, there were 14 lost Jupiter moons.

Because of the study, five out of the 14 lost moons were found. The researchers believe that they could have found all lost 14 Jupiter moons but it would require further analysis to cross check if they were indeed the lost ones or newly discovered Jupiter moons. But they are sure that in total, there are now 69 known Jupiter moons.

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