Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 100, Issue 3–4, pp 233–239 | Cite as

Irregular Satellites of Jupiter: a study of the capture direction

  • Douglas Soldan de Oliveira
  • Othon Cabo Winter
  • Ernesto Vieira Neto
  • Gislaine de Felipe


The irregular satellites of Jupiter are believed to be captured asteroids or planetesimals. In the present work is studied the direction of capture of these objects as a function of their orbital inclination. We performed numerical simulations of the restricted three-body problem, Sun-Jupiter-particle, taking into account the growth of Jupiter. The integration was made backward in time. Initially, the particles have orbits as satellites of Jupiter, which has its present mass. Then, the system evolved with Jupiter losing mass and the satellites escaping from the planet. The reverse of the escape direction corresponds to the capture direction. The results show that the Lagrangian points L1 and L2 mainly guide the direction of capture. Prograde satellites are captured through these two gates with very narrow amplitude angles. In the case of retrograde satellites, these two gates are wider. The capture region increases as the orbital inclination increases. In the case of planar retrograde satellites the directions of capture cover the whole 360° around Jupiter. We also verified that prograde satellites are captured earlier in actual time than retrograde ones.


Irregular satellites Gravitational capture Three-body problem Capture direction Jupiter’s growth 



The authors would like to thanks P.D. Nicholson and an anonymous reviewer for several comments and suggestions that improved this paper. This work was supported by CNPq, Fapesp and Capes.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Soldan de Oliveira
    • 1
  • Othon Cabo Winter
    • 1
  • Ernesto Vieira Neto
    • 1
  • Gislaine de Felipe
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Dinâmica Orbital and PlanetologiaUNESPGuaratinguetaBrazil

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