Home » Astronomers discover new moons of Uranus and Neptune | Telescopes | Magellan

Astronomers discover new moons of Uranus and Neptune | Telescopes | Magellan

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Astronomers discover new moons of Uranus and Neptune | Telescopes | Magellan

Astronomers Discover Three New Moons Orbiting Uranus and Neptune

In a groundbreaking discovery, astronomers have found three new moons orbiting Uranus and Neptune. The find was made through ground telescopes, marking the first time in over two decades that a new moon of Uranus has been observed.

The Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. announced the discovery on February 23. According to researcher Scott S. Sheppard, the newly discovered moons are currently the faintest known satellites of their respective planets. Through specialized imaging processing, these blurry objects were able to be observed.

Of the three new moons, one orbits Uranus and has been tentatively named S/2023 U1. This tiny satellite is only 8 kilometers in diameter and takes 680 days to complete an orbit around Uranus. Following naming conventions, it will be officially named after a character from a play by William Shakespeare.

Sheppard, using the Magellan telescopes in Chile, first observed S/2023 U1 on November 4, 2023. Collaborating with scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the existence of the new moon was confirmed in subsequent observations.

Additionally, Sheppard discovered two new moons orbiting Neptune in September 2021 – S/2002 N5 and S/2021 N1. These satellites have diameters of approximately 23 kilometers and 14 kilometers, respectively, and have varying orbital periods around Neptune.

The distant, non-concentric, and tilted orbits of these moons suggest they were captured by the gravity of Uranus and Neptune during the early formation of the solar system. Shepard notes that all giant planets in the solar system have similar outer moon structures.

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With the addition of S/2023 U1, Uranus now boasts a total of 28 satellites. Understanding how these outer moons were captured could provide valuable insights into the early days of the solar system and the movements of outer solar system planets.

As space missions to explore Uranus and Neptune are in the planning stages, astronomers hope to learn more about these newly discovered moons in the future. This discovery emphasizes the importance of further exploration and study of outer solar system bodies.

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