What is Harpalyke?
Harpalyke is the name given to a moon of Jupiter that is thought to have originated from an asteroid traveling through space that has been christened Ananke. It is thought Harpalyke was once part of Ananke but was dislodged when the larger asteroid entered the orbit of Jupiter and collided with another object. Harpalyke is much smaller than Ananke but shares many of its characteristics giving rise to the collision theory.
Who Discovered Harpalyke?
A team of astronomers led by Scott S. Shepherd dedicated much of their time during the first decade of the 21st-century to identifying the many moons of Jupiter. The astronomers worked from the University of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory and discovered Harpalyke on November 23, 2000. The team from the University of Hawaii has been credited with identifying many of the Jovian satellites discovered in the 21st-century.
What is the orbit of the Jovian moon?
Harpalyke can be found in a similar orbit to the other 15 members of the Ananke group of moons. The orbit of these Jovian moons is not circular but is described as eccentric or elliptical, meaning Harpalyke moves closer and further from Jupiter depending on the tidal movement of the surface of the planet. An average distance from the surface of Jupiter to Harpalyke has been calculated as being 13.1 million miles with an average velocity as it moves around Jupiter of over 5,400 mph. In total, Harpalyke travels around Jupiter to complete a single orbit in 623 Earth Days. Harpalyke travels in what is known as a retrograde orbit around Jupiter meaning it moves in the opposite direction to the spinning of the planet it is moving around.
What does Harpalyke look like?
The exact shape of Harpalyke is difficult to pin down because of the difficulties astronomers have identifying objects orbiting so deeply in space. Jupiter is a failed sun meaning it is a bright object that telescopes and orbiter cameras have difficulty focusing on. What we do know is the radius of Harpalyke is around 1.3 miles with the Jovian moon having a light gray color. The light gray color of Harpalyke is important as it matches the other members of the Ananke group of moons, particularly the Ananke moons of Iocaste and Praxidike.
Comparing Harpalyke to Earth
When we compare Harpalyke to the planet Earth we find the moon of Jupiter is 2895.9 times smaller than our home planet. WHile Harpalyke moves through its orbit at just over 5,400 miles per hour, the Earth moves through our solar system at more than 66,000 miles per hour.
Where did Harpalyke get its name?
The International Astronomical Union created a classification system including the use of names as a way of identifying what kind of moon each is. In the case of moons with a retrograde orbit, the organization stated all names must end in the letter “e”. The traditional way of naming the moons of Jupiter is to use the names of characters from Greek mythology. Harpalyke was a female character in Greek mythology who could turn into the nightbird known as Chalcis.