36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 24 Icy Satellites
Oral, Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 1:30-3:00pm, Lewis

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[24.02] Properties of the Irregular Satellites

T. Grav (University of Hawaii), M.J. Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

The satellites of the giant planets can be separated into two distinct groups, the regular and irregular. The regular satellites orbit the planet in small, near-circular orbits close to the planet's equator plane. The irregular satellites however are found in highly eccentric and inclined (both prograde and retrograde) orbits far away from their host planets. They are thought to have been captured at a late stage of gas giant formation and might therefore provide clues to the state of the solar system at this stage of formation.

The irregular satellites of the giant planets have thus been the target of an aggressive observational campaign. We have performed optical and near-infrared broadband photometric observations and a Spitzer project is under way to determine albedos of these small and dark objects. In this talk we present our recent results on the physical and dynamical properties of the irregular satellites and the implications for our understanding of satellite capture and giant planet formation.

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