34th Meeting of the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy, May 2003
10 Satellites and Rings
Oral, Tuesday, May 6, 2003, 3:25-5:10pm,

[Previous] | [ 10] | [Next]

[10.04] An Instability in Narrow Planetary Rings

J. W. Weiss, G. R. Stewart (CU/LASP)

We will present our work investigating the behavior of narrow planetary rings with low dispersion velocities. Such narrow a ring will be initially unstable to self-gravitational collapse. After the collapse, the ring is collisionally very dense. At this stage, it is subject to a new instability. Waves appear on the inner and outer edges of the ring within half of an orbital period. The ring then breaks apart radially, taking approximately a quarter of an orbital period of do so. As clumps of ring particles expand radially away from the dense ring, Kepler shear causes these clumps to stretch out azimuthally, and eventually collapse into a new set of dense rings. Small-scale repetitions of the original instability in these new rings eventually leads to a stabilized broad ring with higher dispersion velocities than the initial ring. Preliminary results indicate that this instability may be operating on small scales in broad rings in the wake-like features seen by Salo and others.

Some intriguing properties have been observed during this instability. The most significant is a coherence in the epicyclic phases of the particles. Both self-gravity and collisions in the ring operated to create and enforce this coherence. The coherence might also be responsible for the instability to radial expansion. We also observe that guiding centers of the particles do not migrate to the center of the ring during the collapse phase of the ring. In fact, guiding centers move radially away from the core of the ring during this phase, consistent with global conservation of angular momentum.

We will show the results of our simulations to date, including movies of the evolution of various parameters. (Audiences members wanting popcorn are advised to bring their own.)

This work is supported by a NASA Graduate Student Research Program grant and by the Cassini mission.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://lasp.colorado.edu/~weiss/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: weissj@colorado.edu

[Previous] | [ 10] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.