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Join date : 2010-12-25

Retrograde motion Empty
PostSubject: Retrograde motion   Retrograde motion EmptySat Jan 15, 2011 2:00 pm

If formed in the gravity-field of a planet as the planet is forming, a moon will orbit the planet in the same direction as the planet is rotating. If an object is formed elsewhere and later captured into orbit by a planet's gravity, it will be captured into a retrograde or prograde orbit depending on whether it first approaches the side of the planet that is rotating towards or away from it. The retrograde orbits of a planet's satellites are said to be irregular. Prograde orbits are said to be regular.[4]
In our solar system, many of the asteroid-sized moons have retrograde orbits whereas all the large moons except Triton (the largest of Neptune's moons), have prograde orbits.[5] The particles in Saturn's Phoebe ring are thought to have a retrograde orbit because they originate from the irregular moon Phoebe.
Within the Hill sphere, the region of stability for retrograde orbits at a large distance from the primary is larger than the region for prograde orbits at a large distance from the primary. This was thought to explain the preponderance of retrograde moons around Jupiter, however Saturn has a more even mix of retrograde/prograde moons so the reasons are more complicated.[6]

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