Himalia (pronounced /haɪˈmeɪliə/ hye-MAY-lee-ə, or /hɪˈmɑːliə/ hi-MAH-lee-ə as in Greek ‘Ιμαλíα) is the largest irregular satellite of Jupiter, the sixth largest overall in size, and the fifth largest in mass. (Only the four Galilean moons of Jupiter have greater mass.) It was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory on 1904 December 3[6] and is named after the nymph Himalia who bore three sons of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of Jupiter).


Himalia, the largest irregular satellite of Jupiter, was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory on 1904 December 3.[6]


Himalia is named after the nymph Himalia who bore three sons of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of Jupiter). The moon did not receive its present name until 1975;[7] before then, it was simply known as Jupiter VI or Jupiter Satellite VI, although calls for a full name appeared shortly after its and Elara's discovery; A.C.D. Crommelin wrote in 1905:

Unfortunately the numeration of Jupiter's satellites is now in precisely the same confusion as that of Saturn's system was before the numbers were abandoned and names substituted. A similar course would seem to be advisable here; the designation V for the inner satellite was tolerated for a time, as it was considered to be in a class by itself; but it has now got companions, so that this subterfuge disappears. The substitution of names for numerals is certainly more poetic.[8]

The moon was sometimes called Hestia, after the Greek goddess, from 1955 to 1975.[9]


It is the largest member of the group that bears its name, the moons orbiting between 11.4 and 13 million kilometers from Jupiter at an inclination of about 27.5°.[10] The orbital elements are as of January 2000.[1] They are continuously changing due to Solar and planetary perturbations.

Physical characteristics

Himalia appears neutral (grey), like the other members of its group, with colour indices B-V=0.62, V-R= 0.4, similar to a C-type asteroid.[11] Measurements by Cassini confirm a featureless spectrum, with a slight absorption at 3 μm which could indicate the presence of water.[12]

Image of Himalia taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. The moon covers only a few pixels.

In 2005, Emelyanov estimated Himalia to have a mass of 4.19 × 1018 kg (GM=0.28), based on a perturbation of Elara on July 15, 1949.[3] JPL's Solar System Dynamics assumes that Himalia has a mass of 6.7 × 1018 (GM=0.45) with a radius of 85 km.[2]

Himalia's density will depend on whether it has an average radius of about 67 km (geometric mean from Cassini 2000)[3] or a radius closer to 85 km.[2]

Source Radius
Emelyanov 67 3.33 4.19 × 1018
Emelyanov 85 1.63[4] 4.19 × 1018
JPL SSD 85 2.6 6.7 × 1018

Cassini-Huygens faint image of Jupiter's moon Himalia in 2000

In November 2000, the Cassini spacecraft, enroute to Saturn, made a number of images of Himalia, including photos from a distance as close as 4.4 million km. The moon covers only a few pixels, but seems to be an elongated object with axes 150 ± 20 and 120 ± 20 km, close to the Earth-based estimations.[5]

In February and March 2007, the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto made a series of images of Himalia, culminating in photos from a distance of eight million km. Again, Himalia appears only a few pixels across.

See also

* Irregular satellites


1. ^ a b c d e Jacobson, R. A. (2000). "The orbits of outer Jovian satellites". Astronomical Journal 120: 2679–2686. doi:10.1086/316817.
2. ^ a b c d e f g "Planetary Satellite Physical Parameters". JPL (Solar System Dynamics). 2008-10-24. http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?sat_phys_par. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
3. ^ a b c d Emelyanov, N.V.; Archinal, B. A.; A’hearn, M. F.; et al. (2005). "The mass of Himalia from the perturbations on other satellites". Astronomy and Astrophysics 438: L33–L36. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200500143.
4. ^ a b Density = GM / G / (Volume of a sphere of 85km) = 1.63 g/cm³
5. ^ a b Porco, Carolyn C.; et al. (March 2003). "Cassini Imaging of Jupiter's Atmosphere, Satellites, and Rings". Science 299 (5612): 1541–1547. doi:10.1126/science.1079462. PMID 12624258.
6. ^ a b "Discovery of a Sixth Satellite of Jupiter". Astronomical Journal 24 (18): 154B. 1905. http://adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/AJ.../0024//0000154I002.html. ;
"Sixth Satellite of Jupiter Confirmed (Himalaia)". Harvard College Observatory Bulletin 175: 1. 1905-01-25. http://adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/BHarO/0175//0000001.000.html. ; Perrine, C.D. (1905). "Discovery of a Sixth Satellite to Jupiter". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 17: 22–23. doi:10.1086/121619. http://adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/PASP./0017//0000022.000.html. ;
Perrine, C.D. (1905). "Orbits of the sixth and seventh satellites of Jupiter". Astronomische Nachrichten 169: 43–44. doi:10.1002/asna.19051690304. http://adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/AN.../0169//0000027.000.html.
7. ^ Marsden, B. G. (7 October 1974). "Satellites of Jupiter". IAUC Circular 2846. http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iauc/02800/02846.html.
8. ^ Crommelin, A. C. D. (March 10 1905). "Provisional Elements of Jupiter's Satellite VI". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 65 (5): 524–527. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?1905MNRAS..65..524C.
9. ^ Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia; Katherine Haramundanis (1970). Introduction to Astronomy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-134-78107-4.
10. ^ Jewitt, David C.; Sheppard, Scott, and Porco, Carolyn (2004). "Jupiter’s Outer Satellites and Trojans". in Bagenal, F.; Dowling, T.E.; McKinnon, W.B. (pdf). Jupiter: The planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere. Cambridge University Press. http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/users/sheppard/pub/Sheppard04JupChapter.pdf.
11. ^ Rettig, Terrence W.; Walsh, Kevin; and Consolmagno, Guy (2001). "Implied Evolutionary Differences of the Jovian Irregular Satellites from a BVR Color Survey". Icarus 154: 313–320. doi:10.1006/icar.2001.6715.
12. ^ Chamberlain, Matthew A.; Brown, Robert H. (2004). "Near-infrared spectroscopy of Himalia". Icarus 172: 163–169. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2003.12.016.

External links

* Himalia Profile by NASA's Solar System Exploration
* David Jewitt pages
* Jupiter's Known Satellites (by Scott S. Sheppard)

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