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Himalia (Jupiter VI) is the largest irregular satellite of Jupiter, with an estimated diameter of at least 205 km (127 mi).[3] It is the sixth largest Jovian satellite overall in size, and only the four Galilean moons of Jupiter have greater mass. It was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory on 3 December 1904 and is named after the nymph Himalia, who bore three sons of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of Jupiter). It is one of the largest planetary moons in the Solar System not imaged in detail, and the largest not including the moons of Neptune and several trans-Neptunian objects, particularly Dysnomia, the moon of Eris.[1]

Himalia as seen by spacecraft Cassini
Discovered byC. D. Perrine
Discovery dateDecember 3, 1904[1]
Pronunciation/hˈmliə/ hy-MAY-lee-ə or /hɪˈmɑːliə/ hi-MAH-lee-ə
Orbital characteristics
Periapsis9,782,900 km
Apoapsis13,082,000 km
Mean orbit radius
11,460,000 km[2]
250.56 d (0.704 a)[2]
3.312 km/s
  • 27.50° (to the ecliptic)
  • 29.59° (to Jupiter's equator)[2]
Satellite ofJupiter
Physical characteristics
Mean radius
102.8 × 70.7 km (stellar occultation)[3]
85 km (ground-based estimate)[4][5]
75±10 × 60±10 km (Cassini estimate)[5]
~ 90800 km2
Volume~ 2570000 km3
Mass(4.2±0.6)×1018 kg[6]
Mean density
2.6 g/cm3 (assumed)[4]
1.63 g/cm3 (assuming radius 85 km)[6][a]
~ 0.062 m/s2 (0.006 g)
~ 0.100 km/s
7.782 h[7]
Temperature~ 124 K


Himalia was discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory on 3 December 1904.[1] Himalia is Jupiter's most easily observed small satellite; though Amalthea is brighter, its proximity to the planet's brilliant disk makes it a far more difficult object to view.[8][9]


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;[10] 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:

The moon was sometimes called Hestia, after the Greek goddess, from 1955 to 1975.[12]


Animation of Himalia's orbit.
   Jupiter ·    Himalia ·   Callisto

At a distance of about 11,500,000 km (7,100,000 mi) from Jupiter, Himalia takes about 251 Earth days to complete one orbit around Jupiter.[13] It is the largest member of the Himalia group, which are a group of small moons orbiting Jupiter at a distance from 11,400,000 km (7,100,000 mi) to 13,000,000 km (8,100,000 mi), with inclined orbits at an angle of 27.5 degrees to Jupiter's equator.[14] Their orbits are continuously changing due to solar and planetary perturbations.[citation needed]

Physical characteristicsEdit

Himalia's rotational light curve from Earth-based observations taken between August and October 2010.[7]

Himalia's rotational period is 7 h 46 m 55±2 s.[7] Himalia appears neutral in color (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.[15] Measurements by Cassini confirm a featureless spectrum, with a slight absorption at 3 μm, which could indicate the presence of water.[16]

Resolved images of Himalia by Cassini have led to a size estimate of 150 km × 120 km (93 mi × 75 mi), while ground-based estimates suggest that Himalia is large, with a diameter around 170 km (110 mi).[5][4] In May 2018, Himalia occulted a star, allowing for precise measurements of its size.[3] The occultation was observed from the US state of Georgia.[3] From the occultation, Himalia was given a size estimate of 205.6 km × 141.3 km (127.8 mi × 87.8 mi), in agreement with earlier ground-based estimates.[3]


In 2005, Emelyanov estimated Himalia to have a mass of (4.2±0.6)×1018 kg (GM=0.28±0.04), based on a perturbation of Elara on July 15, 1949.[6] JPL's Solar System dynamics web site assumes that Himalia has a mass of 6.7×1018 kg (GM=0.45) with a radius of 85 km.[4]

Himalia's density will depend on whether it has an average radius of about 67 km (geometric mean from Cassini)[6] or a radius closer to 85 km.[4]

Cassini image of Jupiter's moon Himalia, taken in December 2000 from a distance of 4.4 million kilometres
Source Radius
Emelyanov 67 3.33 4.2×1018
Emelyanov 85 1.63[a] 4.2×1018
JPL SSD 85 2.6 6.7×1018


In November 2000, the Cassini spacecraft, en route to Saturn, made a number of images of Himalia, including photos from a distance of 4.4 million km. Himalia 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 en route to Pluto made a series of images of Himalia, culminating in photos from a distance of 8 million km. Again, Himalia appears only a few pixels across.[17]

Possible relationship with Jupiter's ringsEdit

New Horizons image of possible Himalia ring

The small moon Dia, 4 kilometres in diameter, had gone missing since its discovery in 2000.[18] One theory was that it had crashed into the much larger moon Himalia, 170 kilometres in diameter, creating a faint ring. This possible ring appears as a faint streak near Himalia in images from NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. This suggests that Jupiter sometimes gains and loses small moons through collisions.[19] However, the recovery of Dia in 2010 and 2011[20] disproves the link between Dia and the Himalia ring, although it is still possible that a different moon may have been involved.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Density = GM / G / (Volume of a sphere of 85km) = 1.63 g/cm3


  1. ^ a b c Porter, J.G. (1905). "Discovery of a Sixth Satellite of Jupiter". Astronomical Journal. 24 (18): 154B. Bibcode:1905AJ.....24..154P. doi:10.1086/103612.;
    Perrine, C.D. (1905-01-25). "Sixth Satellite of Jupiter Confirmed". Harvard College Observatory Bulletin. 175: 1. Bibcode:1905BHarO.175....1P.;
    Perrine, C.D. (1905). "Discovery of a Sixth Satellite to Jupiter". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 17 (100): 22–23. Bibcode:1905PASP...17...22.. doi:10.1086/121619.;
    Perrine, C.D. (1905). "Orbits of the sixth and seventh satellites of Jupiter" (PDF). Astronomische Nachrichten. 169 (3): 43–44. Bibcode:1905AN....169...43P. doi:10.1002/asna.19051690304.
  2. ^ a b c d Jacobson, R. A. (2000). "The orbits of outer Jovian satellites" (PDF). Astronomical Journal. 120 (5): 2679–2686. Bibcode:2000AJ....120.2679J. doi:10.1086/316817.
  3. ^ a b c d e N. Smith; R. Venable (12 May 2018). "Jupiter (06) Himalia". Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Planetary Satellite Physical Parameters". JPL (Solar System Dynamics). 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  5. ^ a b c d e Porco, Carolyn C.; et al. (March 2003). "Cassini Imaging of Jupiter's Atmosphere, Satellites, and Rings". Science. 299 (5612): 1541–1547. Bibcode:2003Sci...299.1541P. doi:10.1126/science.1079462. PMID 12624258.
  6. ^ a b c d Emelyanov, N.V. (2005). "The mass of Himalia from the perturbations on other satellites" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics. 438 (3): L33–L36. Bibcode:2005A&A...438L..33E. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200500143.
  7. ^ a b c Pilcher, Frederick; Mottola, Stefano; Denk, Tilmann (2012). "Photometric lightcurve and rotation period of Himalia (Jupiter VI)". Icarus. 219 (2): 741–742. Bibcode:2012Icar..219..741P. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.03.021.
  8. ^ "Himalia, Jupiter's "fifth" moon". October 2009. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
  9. ^ Rick Scott (October 20, 2003). "Finding Himalia, The Fifth Brightest Moon Of Jupiter". Retrieved 2011-11-07.
  10. ^ Marsden, B. G. (7 October 1975). "IAUC 2846: N Mon 1975 (= A0620-00); N Cyg 1975; 1975h; 1975g; 1975i; Sats OF JUPITER". Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. IAU. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  11. ^ 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. Bibcode:1905MNRAS..65..524C. doi:10.1093/mnras/65.5.524.
  12. ^ Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia; Katherine Haramundanis (1970). Introduction to Astronomy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-478107-5.
  13. ^ "Himalia". Solar System Exploration. NASA. December 5, 2017. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  14. ^ Jewitt, David C.; Sheppard, Scott & Porco, Carolyn (2004). "Jupiter's Outer Satellites and Trojans" (PDF). In Bagenal, F.; Dowling, T. E. & McKinnon, W. B. (eds.). Jupiter: The planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere. Cambridge University Press.
  15. ^ Rettig, T. W.; Walsh, K.; Consolmagno, G. (December 2001). "Implied Evolutionary Differences of the Jovian Irregular Satellites from a BVR Color Survey". Icarus. 154 (2): 313–320. Bibcode:2001Icar..154..313R. doi:10.1006/icar.2001.6715.
  16. ^ Chamberlain, Matthew A.; Brown, Robert H. (2004). "Near-infrared spectroscopy of Himalia". Icarus. 172 (1): 163–169. Bibcode:2004Icar..172..163C. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2003.12.016.
  17. ^ Lakdawalla, E. (1 March 2007). "The Bruce Murray Space Image Library - Jupiter's moon Himalia". Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Long Lost Moon of Jupiter Found". Carnegie Science | DTM. May 13, 2013. Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  19. ^ "Lunar marriage may have given Jupiter a ring". New Scientist. March 20, 2010. p. 16.
  20. ^ Gareth V. Williams (2012-09-11). "MPEC 2012-R22 : S/2000 J 11". Minor Planet Center. Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-11.

External linksEdit