36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 44 Origins and Planet Formation: Satellite Formation
Oral, Friday, November 12, 2004, 10:30am-12:00noon, Clark

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[44.03] Irregular Satellites in the Context of Planet Formation

D. Jewitt, S. Sheppard (University of Hawaii)

All four giant planets in the solar system possess irregular satellites, characterized by large, highly eccentric and/or highly inclined orbits. These bodies were likely captured from heliocentric orbit, probably in association with planet formation itself. Enabled primarily by the use of large-format digital imagers on Mauna Kea telescopes, new observational work has dramatically increased the known populations of irregular satellites, with 74 discoveries in the last few years. A new perspective on the irregular satellite systems is beginning to emerge.

We find that the number of irregular satellites measured to a given diameter is approximately constant from planet to planet. This is surprising, given the radically different formation scenarios envisioned for the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn compared to the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. We discuss the new results on the irregular satellites and show how these objects might be used to discriminate amongst models of giant planet formation.

This work is in press in the procedings of the International Space Science Institute, Bern, from their 12-16 January meeting on "Outer Planets Before the Exploration of Saturn by Cassini".

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/faculty/jewitt/papers/ISSI/Jewitt.pdf. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.