Saturn has overtaken Jupiter as the satellite king of the solar system.
Astronomers have just discovered 20 previously unknown satellites increasing the number of a circular planet from known satellites to 82 – three more than Jupiter. And there is some more exciting news: You can help name these newly found objects.
All 20 moons are tiny, about 5 miles in size. Seventeen of them have retrograde orbits, that is, they move around Saturn in the opposite direction to the planet's rotation. These 17 all take more than three earthly years to complete one circle of Saturn, and the farthest known is Saturn's most famous satellite, the members of the discovery group said.
Related: Photos: The rings and moons of Saturn
One of the three newly discovered "moon" moons has an orbital period of more than three earthly years, and the other two complete one circle every two years or so.
The 17 retrograde moons seem to belong to the "Norwegian group" of Saturn's moons, which share the same basic orbital parameters. The two most powerful programs of the program agree with the "Inuit group", and the outermost program moon among the new findings may belong to the "Gall group", but this is unclear, researchers say.
Each of these satellite groups is probable evidence of a long-standing impact that destroyed the larger moon orbiting in this common area.
"Such a grouping of external moons is also observed around Jupiter which indicates violent collisions between moons in the Saturnian system or with foreign objects such as transient asteroids or comets," said Scott. Washington, DC, in a statement today (October 7) announcing the opening.
Sheppard led the opening group. He and his colleagues – David Jivitt of the University of California, Los Angeles and Ian Klein of the University of Hawaii – found the moons of Saturn with the help of a Subaru telescope in Hawaii.
"Using some of the largest telescopes in the world, we are now completing an inventory of small moons around giant planets," Sheppard added. "They play a crucial role in helping us determine how the planets in our solar system have formed and evolved."
"The existence of newborn moons indicates that the influences they created occurred after Saturn was fully formed," said Sheppard. The gas giant was surrounded by a disk of dust and gas as it formed. If these tiny months were to throw all this material on the way around Saturn, friction would reduce their speed and send them spiral to the planet.
Last year, Sheppard discovered a dozen moons of Jupiter, and the Carnegie Institute organized a public Contest for named five of these worlds . If you missed this contest, don't worry: you have another chance.
"I was so passionate about public participation in the Jupiter Month Calling Contest that we decided to do another one to call them the recently opened Saturian months," said Sheppard. "This time, the months should be named after the Norwegian giants. , Gallic, or Inuit mythology. "
All 20 newly minted Saturn satellites are a fair game to call. If you are interested, please submit your proposal by tweeting @SaturnLunacy from now until December 6th. hashtag #NameSaturnsMoons.  "Photos, artwork and videos are strongly welcomed," wrote the organizers on the page of the contest title here for much more information.
Visit the Saturn Name Contest page Carnegie for more information on the competition.
Mike Wall's book on the quest for alien life, " There " (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate ), published now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .