Journal Article

Application of the MEGNO technique to the dynamics of Jovian irregular satellites

T. C. Hinse, A. A. Christou, J. L. A. Alvarellos and K. Goździewski

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 404, issue 2, pages 837-857
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16307.x
Application of the MEGNO technique to the dynamics of Jovian irregular satellites

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We apply the Mean Exponential Growth Factor of Nearby Orbits (MEGNO) technique to the dynamics of Jovian irregular satellites. The MEGNO indicator is a practical numerical tool to distinguish between quasi-periodic and chaotic structures in phase space of a given dynamical system. The MEGNO indicator is used to generate a mapping of relevant phase-space regions occupied by observed Jovian irregular satellites. The construction of MEGNO maps of the Jovian phase-space region within its Hill-sphere is addressed and the obtained results are compared with previous studies regarding the dynamical stability of irregular satellites. Since this is the first time the MEGNO technique is applied to study the dynamics of irregular satellites, we provide a review of the MEGNO theory and illustrate basic properties. We consider the elliptic restricted three-body problem in which Jupiter is orbited by a massless test satellite subject to solar gravitational perturbations. The equations of motion of the system are integrated numerically and the MEGNO indicator computed from the system's variational equations. A large set of initial conditions is studied to generate the MEGNO maps. The chaotic nature of initial conditions is demonstrated by studying a quasi-periodic orbit and a chaotic orbit. As a result, we establish the existence of several high-order mean-motion resonances (MMR) detected for retrograde orbits along with other interesting dynamical features related to various dynamical resonances. The computed MEGNO maps allow us to differentiate qualitatively between chaotic and quasi-periodic regions of the irregular satellite phase space within a relatively short integration time of 60 000 yr for each orbit. By comparing with previous published results, we can establish a correlation between chaotic regions and corresponding regions of orbital instability. Based on our results, we hypothesize on the possibility of gravitational scattering from high-order MMR as a dynamical cause to explain the observed orbital velocity dispersion for members of the Pasiphae family.

Keywords: methods: N-body simulations; methods: numerical; celestial mechanics; planets and satellites: individual: Ananke; planets and satellites: individual: Himalia; planets and satellites: individual: Themisto

Journal Article.  15343 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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