A detailed numerical analysis of asymmetrical density distribution in Saturn's F ring during an encounter with prometheus

Phil J. Sutton, Feo V. Kusmartsev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Saturn's rings, reminiscent of an early Solar system present a unique opportunity to investigate experimentally some mechanisms thought to be responsible for planet and planetesimal formation in protoplanetary discs. Here, we extended the comparison of our numerical models of Prometheus encountering the F ring employing non-interacting and interacting particles. Higher resolution analysis revealed that the density increases known to exist at channel edges is more complex and localized than previously thought. Asymmetry between density increases on channel edges revealed that the channel edge facing way from Prometheus to be the most stable but with lowest maximum increases. However, on the channel edge facing Prometheus the interacting model showed large chaotic fluctuations in the maximum density of some clumps, much larger than those of the other channel. The likely cause of this asymmetry is a variance in localized turbulence introduced into the F ring by Prometheus. High-resolution velocity dispersion maps showed that there was a spatial link between the highest densities and the highest velocity dispersions in the interacting model. Thus, suggesting that the high velocity dispersion we see is the reason for the observed inhomogeneous distribution of fans (evidence of embedded moonlets) on some of the channel edges facing Prometheus.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)1313-1325
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume439
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Gravitation
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • Planets and satellites: rings
  • Protoplanetary discs

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