Jupiter was known to have 80 moons, but a discovery added 12 more moons to the list. Therefore, Jupiter has a total of 92 moons, making it the planet with the most moons from the previous record holder, Saturn.

With the discovery of new moons, Saturn is found to have 83 moons, surpassing Jupiter in having the largest number of moons orbiting it. But this discovery helps Jupiter regain its title from Saturn.

The Minor Planet Center (MPC), operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, has released the orbits of these 12 previously unreported moons of Jupiter. The orbital calculations also confirm that the objects are in orbit around Jupiter.

The recently discovered moons are small and distant, taking more than 340 days to orbit Jupiter. Nine of the twelve belong to the 71 outer Jovian moons, with orbital periods of more than 550 days. These moons are most likely captured by Jupiter, as evidenced by the fact that they orbit retrograde and not the innermost moons. Only five retrograde moons are larger than 8 kilometers (5 mi).

Scott Sheppard (Carnegie Institute for Science) is the one who submitted observations of the Jovian system between 2021 and 2022.

He says, “The smaller moons likely formed when collisions shredded larger objects.”

Three newly discovered moons are among 13 others that orbit in a prograde direction and lie between the large, nearby Galilean moons and the distant retrograde moons. These prograde moons are believed to have formed where they are.

Sheppard said, “However, they are more difficult to find than the more distant retrograde moons. The reason is that they are closer to Jupiter and the scattered light from the planet is enormous.”

“That light obscures them in the sky. Five were found before 2000 and only eight have been discovered since.”

Outside of the Galilean moons, there are two groups of prograde Jovian moons: the Himalia group and the Carpo group.

The Himalia group, which takes its name from the fifth-largest Jovian moon, Himalia, is the closest. The group consists of nine members, two of whom are among the recent discoveries, and is located between 6.8 and 7.5 million miles (11 million and 12 million kilometers) from Jupiter.

The Carpo group is far out at about 17 million kilometers from Jupiter. Of these 12 moons, one of the moons belongs to Carpo. Before this series of discoveries, there was only one moon in this group besides Carpo itself, so the discovery of another doubled the population of this group.

Brett Gladman (University of British Columbia, Canada) said: “While Jupiter may have the most moons at the moment, Saturn may be catching up. A search for objects up to about 3 kilometers across that move with the gas giants found three times as close to Saturn as to Jupiter. The more numerous Saturn objects could be from a collision that disrupted a larger moon a few hundred million years ago.”

“If we could count all the moons with a diameter of at least 3 kilometers. Saturn would have more moons than the rest of the solar system.”

Sheppard says, “More publications are expected.”

“The discovery of a dozen new moons for Jupiter also makes the king of planets king of moons — at least for now.”