20 New Moons discovered around Saturn, 100 more moons wait to be found
Twenty new moons have been found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said Monday. That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons. "It was fun to find that Saturn is the true moon king," said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
If it's any consolation to the Jupiter crowd, our solar system's biggest planet - Jupiter - still has the biggest moon. Jupiter's Ganymede is almost half the size of Earth. By contrast, Saturn's 20 new moons are minuscule, each barely 5 kilometres in diameter.
Sheppard and his team used a telescope in Hawaii to spot Saturn's 20 new moons over the summer. About 100 even tinier moons may be orbiting Saturn, still waiting to be found, he said.
Astronomers have pretty much completed the inventory of moons as small as 5 kilometres around Saturn and 1.6 kilometres around Jupiter, according to Sheppard. Future larger telescopes will be needed to see anything smaller. It's harder spotting mini-moons around Saturn than Jupiter, Sheppard said, given how much farther Saturn is.
"So seeing that Saturn has more moons even though it is harder to find them, shows just how many moons Saturn has collected over time," he wrote in an email. These baby moons may have come from larger parent moons that broke apart right after Saturn formed.