OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY: US researcher creates stronger batteries with cheap materials

Houston – VIJAY SHAH via noticiasdelaciencia.com and AgroAlimentando

Batteries are one of the most important elements of our technologically driven society. We rely on them to energise everything from children’s toys and torches, to cars and lorries, yet often they can be the bane of our lives too. Batteries can have their drawbacks, such as catching on fire, running out too quickly, leaking, and performing poorly in wintry weather.

Recently, researchers led by Dr. Yan Yao at the US’ University of Houston have discovered that manufacturing batteries from a new and inexpensive class of materials may help solve the problem of troublesome lithium ion batteries and the like.

 

Yao and team used quinones, a type of chemical organic compound derived from petrochemicals which are easy to obtain and cheap. These recyclable materials were converted into a stable anode compound, which can be used in the manufacture of water-rechargeable batteries. Water-chargeable batteries contain water-based electrolytes that carry current easily, but unlike conventional batteries, do not corrode. Until recently, these kinds of batteries were only really good in the laboratory environment, as their short shelf life made them impractical for situations where replacing the battery regularly is inconvenient, such as in heavy machinery. Despite their short lifespans, water-rechargeable batteries, also known as aqueous-rechargeable batteries are much safer and are more robust.

The main problem with previous models of water-rechargeable batteries has been their anodes, one of three parts in a battery, that is negative when the battery is discharging, and then switches to a positive charge when the battery is being charged up. The anodes in these previous models were intrinsically structurally and chemically unstable, which means that the battery was only efficient for a relatively short period of time.

Yan Yao and the researchers used quinones, which cost as little as $2 (£1.54) per kilogram. They discovered that anodes made from quinones were effective in both acid and alkali batteries as well as newer water-based models using metallic ions. This diversity of usage means that Yao’s technology could be applied to any battery setting for any technology, including for devices not yet invented.

The quinones also help batteries work at a wide range of temperatures, which gives Yao’s batteries an advantage even over other existing aqueous rechargeable battery technology, which still underperforms in cold conditions.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alejandro Shammah‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/aleshammah

“Baterías con vida más larga gracias a una clase de materiales baratos” – noticiasdelaciencia.com via Agroalimentando – AgroA http://agroalimentando.com/nota.php?id_nota=7753&utm_content=buffer2de86&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Duracell battery AA type” – Anton Fomkin, Flickr (19 November 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonfomkin/3046002213

 

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MARRIAGE AND A VEGETABLE: Husband loses wedding ring; finds it around carrot

Bad Münstereifel, GERMANY
VIJAY SHAH

 

 

The website Gemstars reports today the story of a man in Germany who lost his wedding ring, only to find it in a place he never expected to discover it in.

The 82-year-old, a keen gardener, was said to have been in his yard in the small town of Bad Münstereifel a few years ago, when he found to his horror that his wedding band had slipped from his finger and gone missing. Fearful for any possible impact losing the jewellery would have on his marriage, he searched everywhere for it, but to no avail. He eventually gave up the search, and assumed his ring was gone for good.

Three years later, the man pulled up some carrots he had been growing for his kitchen. One of the carrots was found to have something shiny and golden wrapped around it, in the manner of a corset, causing the carrot to be deformed. It was the exact same wedding ring the gardener lost all those years ago. Though his wife had passed away some time after he lost the ring, she told him that one day he would find it again. Six months after her death, he struck gold, rediscovering a lost memento of his many happy years of marriage.

 

SOURCES:
The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
Londoners, Wind Smoke, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/windsmoke_uk/lists/londoners
WWF, The Tweeted Times http://tweetedtimes.com/WWF
“82-Year-Old Man Loses Wedding Ring, Finds it In Carrot From His Garden” – Gemstars http://gemmstars.com/06e9f0033df9
“Möhre bringt verschollenen Ehering zurück” – Kristina Schlömer, WDR 1/WDR (4 November 2016) http://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/rheinland/ehering-trifft-moehrchen-100.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Wedding rings.jpg” –  Jeff Belmonte, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (20 May 2005) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedding_rings.jpg

KEPLER TELESCOPE: Mysterious objects spotted orbiting distant star

Pennsylvania state, UNITED STATES
VIJAY SHAH via Al-Jazeera America

Astronomers and other scientists observing distant stars using the Kepler telescope have found themselves in a bit of a conundrum after spotting the presence of mysterious objects of immense size orbiting a distant star over 1,500 light years from Earth, Al-Jazeera have reported. Some observers have rumoured the objects to be signs of a super-intelligent and ancient alien civilisation, while others have said that it could be little more than orbiting space debris such as comets or captured asteroid fragments.

The Kepler space telescope, managed by American space agency NASA detected an unusual dimming pattern in the light emitted from a star tagged KIC 8462852, which lies within our Milky Way between the constellations of Lyre and Cygnus.

The first five planets discovered by Kepler, c...
The first five planets discovered by Kepler, compared by relative size. Kepler-8b is depicted in orange. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jason Wright, a university researcher allied with Pennsylvania State University in the United States, discovered the anomaly while searching for planets that are similar to Earth and may be capable of sustaining life. He believes the dimming of KIC 8462852 may not be due to the more usual presence of orbiting planets, but may be in fact be ‘alien megastructures’, constructed by an extraterrestrial civilisation for purposes unknown. Wright plans to publish his findings and theory of these alleged ‘megastructures’ in a scientific paper due this year. Wright will claim that the star is being orbitted by a ‘swarm’ of these megastructures, which may for the purposes of gathering solar energy from the old and dim star. Due to the star’s distance from Earth, the dimming of its light by the ‘megastructures’ has only be observable here after that light left KIC 8462852 more than 1,500 years ago, which means the objects were orbiting the star during the 6th century CE.

The original data from Kepler, which was built by NASA to detect exoplanets, planets beyond our Solar System, was analysed by Wright’s fellow researcher Tabetha Boyajian, a scientist and postgraduate at Yale University. Boyajian examined KIC 8462852 in careful detail before sharing her findings with Wright.

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” Boyajian told The Atlantic magazine. “It was really weird. We thought it might be a bad data … but everything checked out.”

Boyajian has also written an academic paper exploring the strange phenomenon of KIC 8462852 recently. Unlike Wright’s alien hypothesis, Boyajian’s paper attempted to propose natural explanations for the objects, which were found by analysing the dip in light from the star as the objects passed in front of it. Apart from possible misreadings of the data or defects with Kepler, Boyajian also accounts for possible floating debris from an asteroid or other astral body collision, or the transit of another star across Kepler’s viewing plane as it observed KIC 8462852 which brought with it several comets which passed in front of KIC. However, despite the more scientific plausibility of these explanations in most astronomy circles, Boyajian herself casts doubt on these explanations, as no other instances of these possible scenarios were reported from the other 150,000 stars Kepler is keeping track of.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told The Atlantic. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Other researchers have been wary of Wright’s findings, arguing that the debris is something much more out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, the findings have created a buzz in scientific circles, with the search for tangible evidence of alien life being one of the hottest topics  for space watchers such as NASA these days.

“Whether there are aliens constructing huge megastructures to meet their power needs at KIC 8462852, or — overwhelmingly more likely — it’s a more natural scenario, this is a pretty weird and interesting star. And it’s definitely worth investigating further,” Phil Plait, an astronomer, wrote in Slate.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Researchers may have discovered alien structures on distant star” – Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera America/Al Jazeera America, LLC. (15 October 2015) http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/15/researchers-may-have-discovered-alien-megastructure-on-distant-star.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Kepler first five exoplanet size.jpg” –  David Koch, Alan Gould, Edna DeVore, Steve Quinn & NASA via Wikimedia Commons (4 January 2010) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kepler_first_five_exoplanet_size.jpg

HUMOUR MOMENT: Find the girl!

Your mission….should you choose to accept it….is to look at the spy code matrix from CIA special ops below and locate the missing girl. We believe her last known whereabouts to have been in Calabasas, California. You have all the time in the world. Feel free to make a coffee, and get me one too while you’re there. Two sugars and milky por favor. The world’s safety….and eardrums…are at stake!!

(c) .977 Radio Network/Facebook
(c) .977 Radio Network/Facebook

Apologies in advance to any fans of a certain mischievous Canadian pop singer….or spelling pedants. The CIA data operatives are so busy crunching code they barely have time to read their secret service-approved dictionaries.

This message probably won’t self-destruct in the next 10 seconds. What am I?….an anarchist!

IMAGE CREDIT:
.977 Radio Network, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/977radio (via Marie Yacoob Hiles)

EAST DEVON ROMAN HOARD: Builder uncovers 20,000 ancient coins in field

A semi-retired builder searching for treasure in the east of the English county of Devon struck historical gold after recently uncovering a hidden hoard of around 20,000 coins dating from the Roman occupation of Britain, national newspaper the Daily Mail reports. The collection of coins, believed to be in the value of £100,000 (US $162,440) was chanced upon by builder and amateur metal detecting enthusiast Laurence Egerton in east Devon, an area in south-western England famed for its picturesque moors and fields.

The hoard of Roman money is believed to be one of the largest hauls of historical coinage ever discovered in the U.K. Egerton, aged 51, was in a local field searching for finds with his metal detector when he stumbled across the hoard of copper-alloy coins, possibly low-denomination coinage issued by the Roman Empire for use by their colonists in their northern most province. The Daily Mail reported that Egerton was so concerned about the possibility of his hoard being stolen that he camped out in the field for three nights, guarding the discovery site while archaeologists arrived to explore the site in more detail.

Dubbed the Seaton Down Hoard, the assortment of 22,000 copper-alloy coins may have been the accumulated savings of a private individual keeping the money safe for a ‘rainy day’ or an informal and well-hidden bank of wages perhaps left by a Roman soldier. It is likely the hoarder died or lost track of the burial site leaving the coins to lay unseen for nearly two thousand years. A picture supplied to the Daily Mail by the British Museum and picture agency Apex shows the Seaton Down Hoard contained in a heavy duty plastic box. The coins appear in still good condition despite being buried for two millennia, but all show signs of corrosion, namely a green rust called verdigris, caused by the copper in the coins reacting with moisture and acids from their surroundings. Many of the coins bear the usual emperor’s profile of Roman coinage and some show two standing figures which possibly have allegorical origins. An analysis by local historian Bill Horner determined that the coins dated back to between 260-348 AD and bear portraits of the Roman emperor Constantine, other emperors ruling alongside him, members of his family. Emperors that ruled either side of Constantine’s reign also make an appearance. According to Horner, Britain at that time was in a prosperous financial state with many Romans and natives flush with money. As one of the outermost provinces of the Roman Empire, Britannia, as the Romans knew it, was a relatively safe area at a time when rebellions on the European mainland against Roman colonial rule made matters unstable there. The Roman colonists in Britain escaped the worst of the tensions and maintained their high standards of living, building many luxurious villas in the south of England. However, freedom struggles and numerous invasions and episodes of infighting in the Empire soon brought financial uncertainty to the rich Romans and Romanised Britons of east Devon, who started hoarding as a security measure.

Romanised farms, or Villas including several in East Devon, were at their richest.

‘But the province was ultimately drawn into Imperial power struggles that, along with increasing attacks from Germanic, Irish and Caledonian tribes, resulted in the rapid decline and end of Roman rule.

‘Coastal areas such as East Devon were on the front-line, and this may be the context for the coin hoard.

‘There were no high street banks, so a good, deep hole in the ground was as secure a place as any to hide your savings in times of trouble, or if you were going away on a long journey.

‘But whoever made this particular deposit never came back to retrieve it” Horner explained.

(c) British Museum via Joanne Bailey.

Believed to have been buried in the 4th century AD, the Seaton Down Hoard is only the third largest such discovery in recent times. In 2010, the Frome Hoard made headlines with its total of 52,503 coins. The second largest was the Nether Compton hoard of 22,703 found in the neighbouring county of Dorset in 1989. Laurence Egerton’s find has been declared ‘treasure trove’ under a Crown law for the protection of British antiquities. A Devon Coroner’s inquest held earlier this month saw the coins donated to the British Museum who are now holding the Seaton Down collection in storage.

A video shot by Egerton shows him wearing gloves and extracting the dirt covered coins from a pit in a muddy field. Despite the muck, archaeologists reckon that his find is one of the best preserved findings of coinage from the last centuries of the Roman Empire in Britain they have ever witnessed. The video later shows archaeologists working on site removing clumps of coins heavily concentrated in a non-descript part of the field.

Interest in the Seaton Down coins, which do not contain any gold or silver, have nevertheless soared between the many museums in Britain concerned with Roman antiquities. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, the county town (capital) of Devon already houses a formidable collection of Romano-British artefacts from the local area and is eager to acquire the coins, and is running a fundraising campaign to purchase the coins outright from the British Museum to display for the benefit of local historians, researchers and students.

Although only reported this month, Laurence Egerton made the initial discovery in November 2013 after obtaining permission from the landowner of the field in Honeyditches, eastern Devon, where previously the remains of a Roman villa, or country home had been noted. The find was then reported to the landowner, a privately-owned company named Clinton Devon Estates, in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996, a parliamentary legal instrument aimed at safeguarding artefacts of national and historical value.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Egerton said: “It’s by far the biggest find I’ve ever had. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

‘Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site, I slept in my car alongside it for three nights to guard it.

‘On this occasion, the ground where I was working was quite flinty and I found what I thought were two Roman coins which is actually quite unusual in Devon.

‘As I began working in a grid formation in the surrounding area I had a signal on the metal detector which means that there is probably iron involved.

‘Most detectors are set up to ignore iron but I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins’

‘The next shovel was full of coins – they just spilled out over the field.

The coins may have originally being held in a cloth bag at the time of their deposition, but that the ravages of time and chemicals from the nearby soil might have caused the bag to rot away leaving the coins to scatter underground. The find is said to be unusual for the region as the county’s acidic soils would normally decompose any metal left in it, yet the coins are in a remarkable state of preservation.

The United Kingdom, with the exception of Scotland, became part of the Roman Empire in a 55 BC invasion of the area by renowned emperor Julius Caesar, who wrested control from the numerous Celtic tribes previously settled there. Many of the conquered Celts were permitted to continue striking their own coins, which were often modelled on imported Greek coins but made more simplified by the native minters. The Romans began importing their own coinage, mainly to pay Roman soldiers and imperial mercenaries stationed in the UK, and also began minting coins locally and to celebrate their victories in Britain. The gold aureus was used for large payments, but not much for day-to-day transactions. It had a fixed value of 25 denarii until at least 200 AD. The silver denarius was the main coin of value in general circulation. The low value coinage of sestertii, dupondii, and asses was struck variously in bronze, orichalcum and copper. Denarii were paid to soldiers at a rate of one a day, while asses, or aes, were believed to have been used to pay for supplies obtained from local traders by the Romans. However by the time of the Seaton Down Hoard, Roman British coinage had become almost worthless owing to imperial financial mismanagement and debasing of the hard currency.

SOURCES:
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/
“Builder unearths vast treasure trove of 22,000 Roman coins worth up to £100,000 – then spends three nights sleeping on site to guard his hoard” – Victoria Woollaston, Mail Online – Science & Tech/Associated Newspapers Ltd (26 September 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2770576/Builder-unearths-vast-treasure-trove-22-000-Roman-coins-spends-three-nights-sleeping-site-guard-hoard.html
XE  http://www.xe.com/
“Coinage In Roman Britain The Coinage Of Britain During The Roman Occupation” – Peter R Thompson, The Ormskirk and West Lancashire Numismatic Society http://www.numsoc.net/rombrit.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
Joanne Bailey, Twitter https://twitter.com/JBHist
VIDEO CREDIT:
“Seaton Down Hoard – 22,000 Roman Coins unearthed in Devon” – ClintonDevonEstates, YouTube GB (26 September 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRq0SSgKvwo

 

THE PLANET WITH FOUR SUNS: An armchair, a laptop and a discovery from deepest space

A planet accompanied by not one, but four suns, has been discovered deep in space by two part-time astronomers. In what has been billed as one of the most exciting recent developments in the study of the universe, the planet and its four suns have been spotted in a galaxy 5,000 light years from Earth.

The extraterrestrial world was discovered by American volunteers in collaboration with the website PlanetHunters.org, run by a team of scientists including Dr Chris Lintott of the UK’s Oxford University. PlanetHunters.org relies on its international panel of ‘armchair astronomers’ to collect and interpret data in its scientific quest for new groundbreaking discoveries. 

Individual volunteers use the website to study the outputs of light coming from far-off stars. Any dip in the star’s luminosity could potentially be the transit of an exoplanet passing in front and blocking the starlight seen from telescopes on Earth. It was this effect, spotted by Kian Jek of San Francisco and colleague Robert Gagliano from the small town of Cottonwood, Arizona, that helped uncover the new world. Jek & Gagliano’s discovery has been confirmed by a team of professionals based at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawai’i, and has been formally announced at the United States’ Division for Planetary Sciences in Reno, Nevada meeting this past Tuesday.

The planet, believed to be made of rock and heavy minerals just like Earth, is estimated to be six times larger than our planet.

While many exoplanets have been discovered outside our solar system orbiting two stars – a binary star setup – this is the first time a planet with a four-star configuration has been reported.

An artist’s impression of PH1 and two of its suns (c) The Independent

 

The planet orbits one pair of stars, as with those in binary star systems, but unusually, it is in turn circled by a second pair of suns at a distance of several billion kilometres away.

Astronomers are still as yet intrigued how the planet came into existence in such an unusual placement. In an interview with The Independent newspaper last week, Dr. Lintott said of the discovery “It’s fascinating to try and imagine what it would be like to visit a planet with four suns in its sky, but this new world is confusing astronomers – it’s not at all clear how it formed in such a busy environment”. Normally, four stars in such close proximity would be expected to have a massive enough collective field of gravity that any planet-forming dust clouds would have been torn apart and incinerated.

The planet has now been named PH1, after the website that helped discover it. PH1 lies at such a distance that it would take 40,000 years for humans to reach it, using our current space exploration technology. Very little is known of PH1 including whether if it is the only planet in its solar system. As the tally of exoplanets increases every month, the possibility of finding more worlds like PH1 is a given certainty in our search for another Earth – and potentially another world to visit and colonise.

Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.

SOURCE:
“’Armchair astronomers’ discover planet with four suns” – John von Radowitz, Press Association & The Independent (Independent.co.uk) LINK

THE OPTICIAN’S NIGHTMARE: Sixty-eyed flatworm discovered in Cambridgeshire

A close-up of the new flatworm’s head, revealing the larger eyes. (c)Wired.co.uk

Naturalists in the United Kingdom have discovered a species of worm with as many as sixty individual eyes. This peculiar creature was discovered under a rock lying about Shepreth L-Moor in the English county of Cambridgeshire by Brian Eversham, the chief executive of the county’s wildlife trust. The flatworm is about 1.2 centimetres in length and was found in amongst the wet hollows and chalky outlays which characterise the moor. This tiny squat animal is a mottled brown colour and resembles a cross between a slug and an ornate beer bottle/glass sculpture.

The new worm is believed to be a relative of an Irish flatworm, or originating from the other side of the world. (c) Daily Mail/Mail Online

This entirely new species, which has yet to be given a formal name in either English or Latin, is one of the most exciting discoveries to made in British wetland environments in many years. Some scientists, unsure of the creature’s status or origins, have claimed that it may be an outsider species accidentally brought in from Australia with imported horticultural products, but it is now accepted that the new flatworm may be a relative of another multiple-eyed worm, Kontikia Andersoni, which lives in Northern Ireland. The biologist Dr. Hugh Jones, working with the Natural History Museum in London, announced that the Cambridgeshire invertebrate is a “completely new, undescribed species“.

Jones, in an interview with the Daily Mail, mentioned additionally the discovery of a similar worm in marshland in the Netherlands, but scientists will have to conduct more studies and DNA tests to determine if the Shepreth and Dutch flatworms are one and the same species.

The 50-60 eyed invertebrate measures up at about 12 mm, and needs significant amounts of moisture to survive. (c) Daily Mail/Mail Online

Mr. Eversham stumbled across the 60-eyed beast while walking and taking photos for a project. “‘I was taking wildlife pictures one Sunday morning and turned over a log to reveal this rather cute flatworm“. It seems that the discovery was a very lucky one as he stated that it is rare to find new species of British wildlife. The local scientific community are very rigorous in documenting wildlife populations, so newly-found animals are rarely uncovered.  Commentators, especially from outside the natural science field, however are questioning the significance of Dr. Evesham’s discovery, claiming the flatworm is either an invasive species from the Antipodes or a misidentified slug.  Readers of the Daily Mail website have, however enthusiastically proposed new names for the worm, whose many eyes are too small to be seen clearly with the naked human eye. George, from the Netherlands, suggested it be named for the Argus Panoptes, a Greek mythological giant who bore a hundred eyes. A less classically inspired, but hilarious suggestion came from a reader, LGM101, who offered up the Latin species name “Kontikia Speksaverus” after the high street opticians, Specsavers.

Flatworms are soft-bodied invertebrates commonly found in leaf litter and even underwater. About half of all species are parasitic and cause harm to humans and other animals. Their prey of choice are usually snails and other types of worms. The United Kingdom has 29 species of terrestrial flatworms, most of which live submerged in freshwater. Only 2-3 of these species are native to the British Isles, and flatworms are generally difficult to find even in their normal habitat.

Shepreth L-Moor, the L-shaped nature reserve where Dr. Evesham made his discovery (c) Dr. Brian Evesham/Cladoniophile @ Flickr

SOURCES: Metro.co.uk, The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, Wikipedia, Daily Mail and WBRC.org.uk.

J1 AND J2: Jupiter’s tiny new moons

Jupiter, as any keen astronomer or long-suffering student in a science classroom will tell you, is our Solar System’s fifth planet and it’s largest. This massive gas giant has two and a half times the mass of all the other planets. Its appearance, with its distinctive marbled surface of white, grey, orange and brown, has intrigued sky-watchers since the dawn of human civilisation. The Romans named it after the senior god in their pantheon and it was an important feature in ancient Chinese and Indian astrology. This celestial mammoth of hydrogen (and a small amount of helium) has also the honour of possessing the Solar System’s largest collection of orbiting moons, or ‘satellites’.

Jupiter with its largest moon Ganymede. (c) Christian Science Monitor

At last count, Jupiter had the grand total of SIXTY-FOUR satellites of varying sizes. The largest is Ganymede, the largest moon in our corner of space. Composed of silicate rock and ice, she is larger than the planet Mercury.

A recent discovery by a group of scientists at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington DC, will mean a small hurried revision to that count. Scott Sheppard, affiliated with Carnegie’s department of terrestrial magnetism, examined data and images taken by the Magellan-Baade telescope and forwarded from an observatory in the Chilean Andes. In one of the black-and-white images, among several blots and points of white light representing stars and galaxies, Sheppard noticed something unusual. Two moons, only about a kilometre (0.62 miles) across and 2 kilometres in diameter with enough surface area for a small town.  These miniscule (in astronomical terms) satellites, were indeed of such an insignificant size that they had been completely missed by previous studies of  Jovian satellite imagery, and even by most detection equipment. Contrast this with Jupiter’s four largest moons, the Galileans, which can be seen by anyone with a telescope, a back garden and a clear sky.

Provisionally dubbed S/2011 J1 and S/2011 J2, the two moons are believed to be asteroids originating from the belt of material between Mars and Jupiter. It is theorised that they left the belt many millions of years ago and while trying to pass Jupiter, were ensnared by its gravity. Both of these new Jovian moons orbit so far away that they take between 580-730 Earth days to revolve around their mother planet. J1 and J2 are ‘retrograde satellites’ – they orbit backwards, in the opposite direction to Jupiter’s own axial rotation. Their orbits are also quite erratic and inclined. Fifty-two of the other known moons also are retrograde, and Sheppard had predicted that there may be up to fifty more still awaiting discovery. As far as the two Js are concerned, they will be renamed after a year of observations and their new names must be ones related to Jupiter/Zeus, the Graeco-Roman king of the gods.

At this point in time, very little is known about them, especially their appearance and what elements they are composed of.

Scientists are excited about the new discovery. Sheppard notes that J1 and J2 could provide answers to the formation of Jupiter and the planetary system as a whole. At a time when telescopes and man-made satellites have their lenses trained on the furthest reaches of space and dozens of planets & other phenomena are being found outside the Solar System every year, we have still much to learn and understand about what is lying around in our own ‘astronomical backyard’.

Jupiter the planet,meets Jupiter the god (A cartoon by the UrbanAstronomer)
Jupiter the planet,meets Jupiter the god (A cartoon by the UrbanAstronomer)

This blog post was based on material from the article “Two New Moons Found Orbiting Jupiter” by Jason Major (National Geographic News, February 2, 2012) and info from Wikipedia.