Psamathe (moon)

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Psamathe feat.jpg
Discovery images of Psamathe by the Subaru Telescope in 2003
Discovered by
Discovery date19 August 2003
Neptune X
Named after
Ψαμάθη Psamathē
S/2003 N 1
AdjectivesPsamathean /sæməˈθən/
Orbital characteristics[3]
Epoch June 10, 2003
Periapsis25.7 million km
Apoapsis67.7 million km
46,705,000 km
9128.74 d
(24.9 y)
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter
40 km (for albedo 0.04)[4]
Albedo0.04 (assumed)[4]

Psamathe /ˈsæməθ/, also known as Neptune X, is a retrograde irregular satellite of Neptune. It is named after Psamathe, one of the Nereids. Psamathe was discovered by Scott S. Sheppard and David C. Jewitt in 2003 using the 8.2 meter Subaru telescope.[4] Before it was officially named on February 3, 2007 (IAUC 8802), it was known by the provisional designation S/2003 N 1.[5]

Animation of Psamathe moving in images by Very Large Telescope on 13 July 2010

Psamathe is about 38 kilometers in diameter. It orbits Neptune at a distance of between 25.7 and 67.7 million km (for comparison, the Sun-Mercury distance varies between 46 million and 69.8 million km) and requires almost 25 Earth years to make one orbit. The orbit of this satellite is close to the theoretical stable separation from Neptune for a body in a retrograde orbit. Given the similarity of Psamathe's orbital parameters with Neso (S/2002 N 4), it was suggested that both irregular satellites could have a common origin in the breakup of a larger moon.[4] Both are further from their primary than any other known moon in the Solar System.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ JPL (2011-07-21). "Planetary Satellite Discovery Circumstances". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  2. ^ Green, Daniel W. E. (September 3, 2003). "Satellites of Neptune". IAU Circular. 8193. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  3. ^ Jacobson, R. A. (2008). "NEP078 - JPL satellite ephemeris". Planetary Satellite Mean Orbital Parameters. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  4. ^ a b c d Sheppard, Scott S.; Jewitt, David C.; Kleyna, Jan (2006). "A Survey for "Normal" Irregular Satellites around Neptune: Limits to Completeness". The Astronomical Journal. 132 (1): 171–176. arXiv:astro-ph/0604552. Bibcode:2006AJ....132..171S. doi:10.1086/504799. S2CID 154011.
  5. ^ Marsden, Brian G. (2003). "MPEC 2003-R19 : S/2003 N 1". Minor Planet Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  6. ^ Schmude, Richard, Jr. (2008). Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and How to Observe Them. Springer. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-387-76601-0.

External links[edit]