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Proposal Information for 2013B-0531


PI: Eric Mamajek, University of Rochester, emamajek@pas.rochester.edu
Address: Department of Physics & Astronomy, 500 Wilson Blvd, Rochester, NY 14627-0171, USA

CoI: David Trilling, Northern Arizona University

Title: DECam Survey for Theoretically Predicted Populations of Distant Outer Satellites and Quasi-Satellites for Uranus and Neptune

Abstract: We propose to use the unique wide-field imaging capabilities of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) to conduct a deep survey to uncover new satellites dyamically associated with Uranus and Neptune. The primary motivations are to: (1) find new faint satellites in order to further understand the origins of the irregular satellites and their orbital families, (2) further constrain the radius distribution of planetary satellites at small radii, (3) recover previously discovered small satellites in order to better constrain their orbits, and (4) discover examples of the theoretically predicted ``quasi-satellites''. We plan to use DECam to repeatedly image the Hill sphere regions associated with both Neptune and Uranus at their respective oppositions (Aug and Oct 2013, respectively), and to map regions along their orbits at ~2- 10\times their Hill radii, where numerical studies have suggests that quasi-satellites (with orbital radii > Hill radius) may remain stable for long timescales. While predicted by theory (e.g. Wiegert, Innanen, & Mikkola 2000, Shen & Tremaine 2008), only a single quasi-satellite has been discovered thus far amongst the ice giant planets: the ~250 km-sized object (309239) 2007 RW10. It seems likely that 2007 RW10 represents the tip of the iceberg of a new dynamical population of quasi-satellites which may represent an important new tracer of the dynamical history of the outer solar system.


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