NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2003A-0466

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Proposal Information for 2003A-0466


PI: Matthew J. Holman, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, mholman@cfa.harvard.edu
Address: Theoretical Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Mail Stop 51, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

CoI: Tommy Grav, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: JJ Kavelaars, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (Canada)

Title: Probing the small end of the size distribution of Jupiter's irregular satellites

Abstract: In the last few years the number of known irregular satellites of the gas giants has increased dramatically. With this increase in orbital information new insights into the origin of the irregular satellite systems of the gas giants have been developed. There now appears to be little spatial differentiation of the large and small irregular satellites and the size distribution of material appears to point clearly to a collisional formation and perhaps capture. Owing to its proximity, Jupiter's family of irregulars provides the best laboratory for studying the size distribution of these satellites. Currently, the smallest known jovian moon has an estimated size of 1.6 km. By using a state-of-the-art pencil beam technique that we have demonstrated at the CTIO 4-m with the detection of faint neptunian and uranian satellites, our survey will reach to magnitude R~25.5, corresponding to jovian satellites as small as 400 m. This will significant extend our ability to characterize the collisional environment during the formation and orbital evolution of the jovian satellite system.


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