While searching for the Planet 9, the proposed ninth planet of our solar system thought to lurk beyond the orbit of Neptune. Using the Dark Energy Camera, an extremely sensitive tool mounted to Chile’s Blanco 4-m Telescope.
“One of a dozen new moons discovered around Jupiter is circling the planet on a suicide orbit that will inevitably lead to its violent destruction,” astronomers said.
Noticing the Jovian satellite for the first time on March of last year, they had to go through a long process to confirm that they’re really orbiting Jupiter. As observing something around the Gas Giant is extremely hard. Even large bodies appear as faint dots, requiring powerful telescopes.
Troubling a little more, the Jupiter itself shines much brighter obscuring tiny moons. Jupiter is already at the top with the most moon in our solar system and now these twelve newly discovered moons made the certificate permanent.
Nine of the newly discovered moons orbit an outer group in retrograde of Jupiter. Retrograde or retrograde motion is an apparent change in the movement of a celestial body. Not like it will start moving backward but more of the relative position of the body and earth and they’re orbiting the sun. Each cycle around the Gas Giant in about two years.
Traveling in the same direction as the spin of Jupiter, two moons were found in the prograde orbit cycling much closer to the planet. Prograde orbit is having a rotational or orbital movement of a celestial body akin to most bodies in a celestial system.
The twelfth and the last Jovian moon was referred to as an Oddball. As this tiny, less than a kilometer wide celestial body, Valetudo orbits around the Gas Giant on a prograde orbit but at distance, says it crosses other moon’s paths.
Valetudo is likely driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road, it is moving prograde while all the other objects are moving retrograde. Thus head-on collisions are likely.
But collision doesn’t happen all that frequently, every billion years or so. If one happens, we would be able to detect it from the earth, but it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.