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Gravitational vortices and clump formation in Saturn's F ring during an encounter with Prometheus

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posted on 04.03.2013, 09:35 by Phil Sutton, Feodor Kusmartsev
Saturn rings are most beautiful and dynamic places in the solar system, consisting of ice particles in a constant battle between the gravitational forces of Saturn and its many moons. Fan, spiral, propellers, moonlets and streamer-channels observed by CASSINI in the F-ring have been attributed to encounters by Prometheus on the F ring, with investigations of optical thickness revealing large populations of transient moonlets. Taking into account gravitational interaction between particles and a multi-stranded F-ring structure we show that Prometheus' encounters create rotational flows, like atmospheric vortices and the self-gravity enhances the accelerated growth and size of moonlets. Vortex patches form caustics, which is a primary cause of the transient particle density clumps of 20 km width and 100 km length, and they are elongated to cover an area of 1600 km by 150 km, which may eventually combine into a vortex sheet.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Physics

Citation

SUTTON, P.J. and KUSMARTSEV, F.V., 2013. Gravitational vortices and clump formation in Saturn's F ring during an encounter with Prometheus. Scientific Reports, 3, 9pp., doi:10.1038/srep01276

Publisher

© Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publication date

2013

Notes

This article was published in the journal, Scientific Reports [© Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited]. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

ISSN

2045-2322

Language

en