JJ Kavelaars

Working hard to measure planet formation via studies of the Kuiper belt!

Dr JJ Kavelaars (SRO)

Dr JJ Kavelaars (SRO)


Dr. JJ Kavelaars received his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston ON in 1998.  He is an Astronomer at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoira.  JJ is a member of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre and an Adjunct Professor in the  University of Victoria Department of Physics and Astronomy.  JJ is the co-author of +75 refereed papers dealing with topics ranging from the value of the Hubble constant to the deuterium content of comets.



Research Topics

  • The Kuiper Belt Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a vast reservoir of ice cometary material. The chunks and hunks of material in this region range from a few meters to 100s of kilometres in size. I am actively searching this region of the solar system, attempting to catalogue its contents and map its structure. Mapping the contents of the Kuiper Belt provides the clues needed to model the formation of the Giant Planets of our solar system.
  • Irregular Satellites Planetary satellites which do not orbit in the planets equatorial plane are called irregular satellites. I am part of the team which discovered 5 irregular moons of the planet Uranus in 1997 and 1999. In 2000 we discovered 8 irregular moons of Saturn. Since then we have gone on to discovery a few dozen satellites orbiting Jupiter and the handful of objects orbiting Neptune. These discoveries are spawning a new era of investigations attempting to explain the formation of irregular satellites.



  • Introductory Planetary Science. During winter semesters I teach ASTR-255 ‘Introduction to Planetary Science” at the University of Victoria. This course deals with the basics of planetary science at an introductory level. Students interested in taking this course should contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


Major Projects

  • CFEPS: Observations for the Canada-France Ecliptic Plane Survey (CFEPS) completed in 2009.  We observed about 500 square degrees of sky, searching for Kuiper belt objects. Approximately 300 KBOs were discovered, 169 making up the characterized sample. We are still analyzing the results of this survey.
  • OSSOS: The Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS) is ongoing.  This project, like CFEPS, uses the CFHT MegaPrime camera to survey the sky and discovery Kuiper belt objects.  OSSOS started in 2013 and will run till 2016.  We expect to discovery and track more than 500 Kuiper belt objects.