Taygete was discovered Nov. 25, 2000, by Scott S. Sheppard, David C. Jewitt, Yanga R. Fernandez, and Eugene Magnier at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.


Taygete is a member of the Carme group, a family of Jovian satellites which have similar orbits and appearance and are therefore thought to have a common origin. The group probably began as a D-type asteroid (possibly from the Hilda family or the Jupiter Trojans) that suffered a collision, which broke off a number of pieces, either before or after being captured by Jupiter's gravity. The largest remaining chunk (still retaining 99 percent of the group's mass) was named "Carme," and the smaller pieces became the other 16 moons in the Carme group.

All of the Carme moons are retrograde, which means that they orbit Jupiter in the opposite direction from the planet's rotation. Their orbits are also eccentric (elliptical rather than circular) and highly inclined with respect to Jupiter's equatorial plane. They all are very similar in color — light red — except for Kalyke, which is considerably redder than the others. All of these characteristics support the idea that the Carme satellites began as a captured asteroid, rather than forming as part of the original Jupiter system. None of the Carme members is massive enough to pull itself into a sphere, so they are probably all irregularly shaped.

Taygete has a mean radius of about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers). At a mean distance of about 14.4 million miles (23.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter, the satellite takes about 732 Earth days to complete one orbit.

How Taygete Got Its Name

Originally called S/2000 J9, Taygete was named for one of the Pleiades, who were the seven daughters of Atlas. Taygete was impregnated by Zeus, the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter, and bore him a son called Lakedaemon. According to one account, that smooth-talking Zeus once attempted to mollify his wife, Hera, by telling her that he had never been so charmed as by Hera — not even when he had Taygete.

A name ending in "e" was chosen for this moon in accordance with the International Astronomical Union's policy for designating outer moons with retrograde orbits.

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