Friday, July 1, 2011

New Moonlets for Jupiter: How many are there?

Yes, ten months ago, Satellite trackers have found 2 new moonlets orbiting Jupiter. The new moonlets are designated S/2010 J1 and S/2010 J2. Both are very small; S/2010 J1 is just 2 km across (magnitude 23.3 when found) and S/2010 J2 is half that size (magnitude 23.9).

This brings me to the questionable argument of how many moons Jupiter has. Sky&Telescope says 65 (included with the new satellites), but Wikipedia has 64 (excluding new). You also have to think of S/2000 J 11. From Matthew Winter's "One the Dual Transits of Jupiter and the Jovian Moons:"
On an important note, there is a dispute over whether Jupiter has sixty-four or five moons, S/2000 J 11, Jupiter’s outermost moon is the dispute on account of its orbit. Theory says that s/2000 J 11, previously grouped in the ‘Himalia group,’ crashed into Himalia itself, causing another faint ring around the planet. Therefore; S/2000 J 11 is not known to exist, more correctively, entitled ‘missing,’ and is not counted as a moon, making sixty-four moons, not sixty-five. [But, we don't know for sure...]
So, how many moons does Jupiter have? Below are pictures of the moonlets.

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