Saturn is the new moon king!

in #science2 years ago

We hear a lot about exoplanet discoveries these days. Just 20 years ago we had barely any idea about the composition of other star systems, and yet today we know of at least 4000, and steadily counting.

By closely watching stars for periodic dimming, we can pinpoint where planets must be blocking the light as they pass by. Sometimes tiny wobbles in periodic motion, such as radial velocity, can indicate that there are gravitic interactions with other worlds also.

With a lot of probabilistic math we can then figure out whether that's likely to be a gas giant, or a rocky body. Spectroscopic analysis can tell us whether there is hydrogen, ammonia, or water vapour. Intriguingly, a few of these worlds seem like good candidates for having an Earth-like atmosphere, possibly even life as well.

We are now learning how to apply similar techniques to monitoring changes in the reflected brightness (albedo) of nearby planets in our own solar system, along with the wobbles of moons.

Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie Institute of Science has discovered 20(!) new moons of Saturn, that we previously had no idea about. Dr Sheppard previously discovered 5 new moons of Jupiter, but (from now on) Saturn officially holds the record for the most moons that we know of, 82 to Jupiter's 79. That may not be surprising as it's ring system is composed of many small moons that broke apart, and it contains millions of little moonlets within them.

The 20 moons need names, and they are asking the public for suggestions. Perhaps you will have the honour of naming one!

There's a catch though – the names for the moons must come from Inuit, Norse, or Gallic mythology, to match with other nearby moons in their respective orbits. Thus, I'm afraid that MoonyMcMoonface is sadly not acceptable in this case...


I was briefly a science teacher for 6th grade students like 13 years ago and when we were covering the amount of moons each planet had I was very forthcoming to the students about how "nobody really knows if this is true yet" and it is nice to see this information still coming out.

20 new moons... wow... i wouldn't have expected that all in one go.

Question: Is Pluto a planet or not? And what happened to planet X?

I guess "He who can does; he who cannot teaches" explains your brief tenure.

As for Pluto, it is currently considered a planetesimal which may or may not in the future become a fully fledged planet. It is argued that the origin planets and formations of them come from cosmic dust which stick to each other and form larger and larger bodies.

As for Planet X, I believe they are considering it the new 9th planet.

and if "Mooney McMoonface" is not an option.... i say we don't name any of them :P

I agree. Norse mythology? What the hell does Saturn have to do with the Norse!?

You can enter the contest to name one for yourself here though.

 2 years ago Reveal Comment