Which planet has the most moons

New record: Saturn has the most moons in the solar system

So far, the competencies of the gas planets have been clearly distributed: While the smaller Saturn shines as Lord of the Rings, Jupiter was the king of the moons. And not only because of the four spectacular satellites already discovered by Galileo, but also because of the sheer number. 79 natural moons are currently known from the largest planet - only 62 for Saturn. But now a working group led by Scott S. Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution has reversed the ranking. The working group discovered a total of 20 new moons during an observation campaign with the Subaru telescope in Hawaii, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union has now confirmed.

In a competition, the Carnegie Institution is now calling on the public to propose names for the newly discovered celestial bodies. However, with strict guidelines: All names must come from giants from Scandinavian, Gallic or Inuit mythology, and there is little chance that one of them will be called "Moonie McMoonface". The names have their background in the orbits of the objects, thanks to which experts can assign them to groups of already known moons with similar orbits.

Two of the moons orbit the planet at an incline of approximately 46 degrees and in the direction of its rotation, belonging to a class of moons known as the Inuit group. Another moon moves in the same direction, but with an orbit inclination of 36 degrees, which characterizes the Gauls group. The other moons discovered orbit Saturn in the opposite direction to its rotation and belong to the Nordic group - one of these satellites is also the furthest away from the planet among the objects known so far.

The fact that the bodies can be divided into groups is related to the history of how they were created. Presumably, the moons were formed when their mother bodies were destroyed by collisions in the early days of the solar system. There are also corresponding groups of moons around Jupiter, which indicates firstly that the youth of the solar system were extremely violent - and secondly that Saturn's title as king of the moons is by no means secured. It was only in 2018 that Sheppard and his team discovered twelve new moons of Jupiter, and that the list is by no means complete.