DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 29. Rings I
Oral, Chair: L. Spiker, Thursday, November 29, 2001, 11:40am-12:40pm, Regency GH

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[29.02] Another Explanation for Neptune's Ring Arcs

F. Namouni, C. Porco (Southwest Research Institute)

Recent HST and Earth-based observations (Dumas et al 1999, Nature 400, 733; Sicardy et al 1999, Nature 400, 731) indicate that Neptune's ring arcs are not located at the corotation resonance with Galatea thought to be responsible for the azimuthal confinement of the arc system (Porco, 1991 Science 253, 995). Although small (5\times 10-3\circ{\rm d}-1), the new observed mean motion offset puts the arcs near the resonance separatrix where the particles' semimajor axes would experience chaotic motion leading to the azimuthal spreading of the arcs within months, thereby calling into question their very existence. We have found a new resonant structure, dependent on the arcs having a small fraction of the mass of Galatea, in which Galatea's 43:42 eccentric corotation resonance, located (in the massless case) ~3 km inside the arcs' orbit, is made coincident with the arcs' semimajor axis. The arcs are primarily confined by this resonance, which is stronger (\propto e\rm Galatea) than the inclined corotation resonance (\propto I2\rm Galatea) invoked in the Porco model. Moreover, the coupling of all the resonances in the arcs' neighborhood (eccentric corotation, inclined corotation and Lindblad resonances) modifies the interaction potential, creating smaller structures at the arcs' location. Consequently, this new confinement mechanism can simultaneously explain the arcs' confinement, the general spacing of the arcs, the Fraternité arc length of ~ 10\circ, and smaller-scale features seen in the arc system. Finally, the possibility of non-massless arcs supports an earlier suggestion by Porco et al (1991, in Neptune and Triton, the University of Arizona Series) that the rapid expected radial migration of the arc system, due to Galatea's secular torques, can be slowed down if the arcs have substantial mass.

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

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