Thursday, June 1, 2023

Saturn Reclaims ‘Ruler of the Moons’ Title with 145 Moons

A team of astronomers led by Edward Ashton discovered new moons around Saturn using a technique called “shift and stack.” This method involves combining multiple images of the sky, shifting them to match the movement of a moon, and enhancing its signal. While this technique has been used before to find moons around other planets, it is the first time it has been applied to Saturn.

The team analyzed data collected between 2019 and 2021 by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. They were able to detect moons as small as 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) in diameter around Saturn. However, confirming that these objects were indeed moons and not passing asteroids required tracking them for several years to observe their orbit around the gas giant.

After carefully matching the objects detected on different nights over a period of 24 months, the team confirmed the existence of 63 new moons around Saturn. These discoveries have been gradually announced over the past few weeks. Ashton compared the process to connecting dots in a game of Dot-to-Dot, as they had to establish viable orbits for each moon.

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