Jarnsaxa (S/2006 S 6)

back to Outer Saturnian Moons

Jarnsaxa is ∼4 kilometers in size and thus one of the smallest known irregular moons of Saturn. It has been discovered in 2006 joint with eight other outer moons. Jarnsaxa’s mean distance to Saturn is ∼19½ million kilometers, with one revolution around the planet on a retrograde orbit requiring 2 years and 9 months.
Cassini made one attempt to observe Jarnsaxa in March 2012, but since the ephemeris was not well known, pointing was insufficient and Jarnsaxa did not show up in the images. Thus, its rotational period remained unknown.

Table of contents

(1) Astronomical and physical properties

This page is intended to compile (much of) our knowledge of Jarnsaxa in compact form, including general information like discovery circumstances and orbital and physical parameters. For further reading on irregular moons of Saturn in general, see the reference list at my outer-Saturnian moons page.

This website is still under development and will get additional content in the near future. I will remove this note when the page will be close to completion.

Last update: 30 Oct 2018 — page content is best displayed on a screen at least 1024 pixels wide


(1) Astronomical and physical properties

Moon name Saturn range Orbit period Orbit direction Size Rotation period Discovery year
Jarnsaxa
 million km
 years
retrograde
∼ 
 km
unknown
2006

Basic information about Jarnsaxa is offered in tabular form:
(1A) Designations and discovery circumstances
(1B) Orbit parameters
(1C) Physical parameters (body properties)
← Tables (1A) to (1C) in ASCII format

Most fundamental values are highlighted in red. The notes offer explanations, calculations, accuracies, references, etc. The data were obtained from spacecraft as well as from ground-based observations.

(1A) Designations and discovery circumstances
Moon name(1) Jarnsaxa IAU number(3) Saturn L First observation date(7) 05 Jan 2006
Moon abbrev. (TD)(2) Jar Provisional desig.(4) S/2006 S 6 Announcement date(7) 30 Jun 2006
SPICE ID(5) 650 IAU circ. announcement(7) no. 8727
Also-used label(6) S50 Discoverers(8) S. Sheppard et al.

Notes for Table 1A:

(1) Jarnsaxa’s name was announced on 20 Sep 2007 in IAU circ. 8873. It is taken from the Norse mythology where Járnsaxa is a Jötunn (frost giantess), daughter of Ægir and Rán, and mother of Thor’s son Magni.

(2) I use this 3-letter abbreviation in the diagrams of my publications simply for practicability reasons. These have no offcial character.

(3) Moon numbers are assigned by the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s Committee for Planetary System Nomenclature. For satellites, roman numeral designations are used.

(4) Designation given to the object in the first announcement; the guidelines are explained here.

(5) SPICE is a commonly-used information system of NASA’s Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF). It assists engineers in modeling, planning, and executing planetary-exploration missions, and supports observation interpretation for scientists. Each planet and moon obtained a unique SPICE number.

(6) ‘S’ for ‘Saturnian moon’ plus the roman numeral designation in arabic numbers are often-used labels for satellites. Not sure how official that is.

(7) The date of the photography wherein the object was spotted for the first time is given in the IAU circular released on the announcement date.

(8) The discoverer team included: Scott Sheppard, David Jewitt, and Jan Kleyna.

(1B) Orbit parameters
Orbit direction(1) retrograde Group member(2) Norse Dynamical family(3) Mundilfari
Periapsis range(4) 15.13 ⋅ 106 km Semi-major axis(5) 19.35 ⋅ 106 km Apoapsis range(6) 23.57 ⋅ 106 km
Semi-major axis(7) 321 R Semi-major axis(8) 0.129 au Semi-major axis(9) 0.30 RHill
Orbit eccentricity(10) 0.22 Orbit inclination(11) 163.7° Inclination supplemental angle(12) 16.3°
Orbital period(13) 1007 d Orbital period(14) 2 y 9 m ¼ w Mean orbit velocity(15) 1.40 km/s

Notes for Table 1B:

(1) Prograde (counterclockwise as seen from north) or retrograde (clockwise as seen from north)

(2) Norse, Inuit, or Gallic

(3) Classification based on the a,e,i space in Fig. 1 and Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018)

(4) $r_{Peri}=a\cdot(1-e)$

(5) Orbit semi-major axis a, from Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018)

(6) $r_{Apo}=a\cdot(1+e)$

(7) Saturn radius R = 60330 km (100 mbar level)

(8) Astronomical Unit 1 au = 149 597 870.7 km

(9) Saturn’s Hill sphere radius $R_{Hill}=\sqrt[3]{m_♄/3m_☉}\cdot r_{♄↔☉}$= ∼65 ⋅ 106 km = ∼1085 R♄ = ∼3° as seen from Earth at opposition (with mass of Saturn m = 5.6836 ⋅ 1026 kg and perihel range Saturn↔Sun r♄↔ = 1.353 ⋅ 109 km)

(10) Orbit eccentricity e, from Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018)

(11) Orbit inclination i, from Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018)

(12) Orbit “tilt” or inclination supplemental angle i’ = i for prograde moons; i’ = 180°−i for retrograde moons

(13) From the Planetary Satellite Mean Orbital Parameters page of JPL’s solar system dynamics website

(14) Value from (13) in units of years, months, weeks

(15) $v=\sqrt{Gm_♄/a}$ (Gravitational constant G = 6.6741 ⋅ 10−20 kmkg−1 s−2 )

(1C) Physical parameters
Mean size(1) 4 $^{+1¼}_{−¾}$ km Min. equatorial axes ratio(4) unknown Mass(6) ∼ 2 ⋅ 1013 kg
Mean radius(2) ∼ 2.1 km Axes radii (a × b × c)(5) unknown Mean density(7) 0.5 g/cm3 (?)
 Equatorial circumference(3)  ∼ 14 km Surface escape velocity(8) ∼ 3 km/h
Rotation period(9) unknown +/- (9) Spin rate(9) unknown
Spin direction(10) unknown Pole dir. (ecliptic longitude λ)(12) unknown Pole direction (geocentric, RA)(13) unknown
Seasons(11) unknown Pole dir. (ecliptic latitude β)(12) unknown Pole direction (geocentric, Dec)(13) unknown
Absolute visual magnitude(14) ∼ 15.6 mag Apparent vis. mag. from Earth(15) 24.7 mag Best apparent mag. for Cassini(16) 16.2 mag
Color(17) unknown Albedo(18) 0.06 (?)
Hill sphere radius(19) ∼ 340 km Hill sphere radius(20) ∼ 160 rJar

Notes for Table 1C:

(1) Determined from absolute visual magnitude H (see note (14)). The conversion from H to size (diameter of a reference sphere) was calculated through $D=1 \text{ au}\cdot \frac{2}{\sqrt{A}}\cdot 10^{−0.2·(H−M_☉)}$; with solar apparent V magnitude M = −26.71 ± 0.02 mag and Astronomical Unit 1 au = 149 597 870.7 km. For Jarnsaxa’s albedo, see note (18). Due to the uncertain input values, a size determined this way may be uncertain to ∼ −15/+30% (for A ± 0.02 and H ± 0.1).

(2) Half the diameter value. While the diameter is the intuitive size number, the radius r is mainly used in formulas to calculate other quantities. Important: While the given number is the formal result from the equation of note (1), the true precision is much lower (also see note (1)).

(3) Estimated under assumption of a spherical equatorial circumference.

(4) Ratio between long equatorial reference axis a and short equatorial reference axis b; unknown because no lightcurve is available.

(5) Unknown because no shape model is available.

(6) The mass is a very rough guess, estimated through density ρ and volume $\frac{4\pi}{3}r^3$; see notes (7) and (2).

(7) The density of Jarnsaxa is not known, the given number is speculative. There are indications from other Saturnian irregular moons that these objects have quite low densities (well below 1 g/cm3), similar to comets or some of the inner small moons of Saturn. However, a higher density, maybe up to 2.5 g/cm3, cannot be ruled out.

(8) $v_{esc}=\sqrt{\frac{2GM}{R}}$; very rough guess as well since it depends on Jarnsaxa’s mass (note (6)) and radius (notes (1) and (2)) which are not well known. = 6.674 · 1011 mkg−1 s−2 (Gravitational constant).

(9) Unknown because Cassini could not observe the object.

(10) Valid entries: Prograde (counterclockwise as seen from north), retrograde (clockwise as seen from north), ‘lying on the side’ (pole direction almost perpenticular to ecliptic pole), or ‘unknown’.

(11) Valid entries: “None” (rotation axis points close to one of the ecliptic poles), “moderate” (rotation axis is moderately tilted), or “extreme” (rotation axis is highly tilted, points somewhere close to the ecliptic equator), or ‘unknown’.

(12) —

(13)

(14) From Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018); the number may be uncertain by several tenths of magnitude. The absolute visual magnitude H is the magnitude (brightness) of an object (in the visible wavelength range) if located 1 au away from the sun and observed at 0° phase angle (i.e., in this definition, the observer virtually sits at the center of the sun). The magnitude scale is logarithmic, with an object of 6th mag being 100x darker than a 1st mag object.

(15) Apparent visual magnitude V; from Table 2 in Denk et al. (2018).

(16) Given is the best apparent magnitude as seen from Cassini at a time when an observation took place.

(17)

(18) Might vary by ±0.03; see discussion in Denk et al. (2018).

(19) Hill radius at periapsis under the assumption of the given density (see note (7)). The number would be larger for a higher density, or lower for a lower density.

(20) Hill radius at periapsis in Jarnsaxa-radius units. With $R_{Hill}=\sqrt[3]{4\pi\rho_{Jar}/9m_♄}\cdot r_{Jar↔♄}$, this number only depends on the object’s distance to the central body (Saturn; linear dependency) and on the object’s density (proportional to the cubic root; see also note (7)).


© Tilmann Denk (2018)