Scientists have found 20 previously unknown moons around Saturn bringing the number of moons up to 82. This puts the planet in the lead for most satellites, over taking Jupiter by three moons.
The public have been invited to participate in this new discovery by suggesting names for some of the moons. The names have to be after giants from Norse, Gallic, or Inuit mythology, in line with each moons grouping.
According to a statement by Carnegie Science, the moons were discovered using the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Each of the moons is about five kilometers in diameter. Seventeen of them orbit the planet backwards (retrograde) and the other three follow the same direction as Saturn (prograde).
Two of the prograde moons take about two years to complete their orbit, these fit into the group of outer moons which sit at 46 degrees, and are part of the Inuit group and are named after Inuit mythology.
While the retrograde moons take more than three years and are in the Norse group, and have names from Norse mythology. The other newly found prograde moon has an inclination near 36 degrees, which is similar to the other known grouping of inner prograde moons around Saturn called the Gallic group, and are named after Gallic mythology.
Scientist believe that much like Jupiters smaller moons, these new moons were once part of a larger parent moon that broke apart in the past.
“This kind of grouping of outer moons is also seen around Jupiter, indicating violent collisions occurred between moons in the Saturnian system or with outside objects such as passing asteroids or comets,” explained astronomer and team lead Scott Sheppard.
After the success of the Jupiter moon naming contest last year, Sheppard and his team are excited to get people involved in naming all twenty of the new moons over social media, tagging @SaturnLunacy and including #NameSaturnsMoons.