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Outer irregular satellites of the planets and their relationship with asteroids, comets and Kuiper Belt objects

  • Scott S. Sheppard (a1)

Outer satellites of the planets have distant, eccentric orbits that can be highly inclined or even retrograde relative to the equatorial planes of their planets. These irregular orbits cannot have formed by circumplanetary accretion and are likely products of early capture from heliocentric orbit. The irregular satellites may be the only small bodies remaining which are still relatively near their formation locations within the giant planet region. The study of the irregular satellites provides a unique window on processes operating in the young solar system and allows us to probe possible planet formation mechanisms and the composition of the solar nebula between the rocky objects in the main asteroid belt and the very volatile rich objects in the Kuiper Belt. The gas and ice giant planets all appear to have very similar irregular satellite systems irrespective of their mass or formation timescales and mechanisms. Water ice has been detected on some of the outer satellites of Saturn and Neptune whereas none has been observed on Jupiter's outer satellites.

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Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
  • ISSN: 1743-9213
  • EISSN: 1743-9221
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-international-astronomical-union
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