Features Around Embedded Moonlets in Saturn's Rings: The Role of Self-Gravity and Particle Size Distributions

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This paper presents the results of N-body simulations of moonlets embedded in broad rings, focusing specifically on the saturnian A ring. This work adds to previous efforts by including particle self-gravity and particle size distributions. The discussion here focuses primarily on the features that form in the background particles as a result of the moonlet. Particle self-gravity tends to damp out features produced by embedded moonlets and this damping is enhanced if the moonlet is simply the largest member of a continuous size distribution. Observable features around an embedded moonlet appear to require that the largest ring particles be no more massive than 1/30 the mass of the moonlet. These results, compared with current and future Cassini observations, will provide insight into the nature of the particle population in the saturnian rings. Some time is also spent analyzing the way in which the background particles cluster around the moonlet. The accretion of small particles onto the moonlet can be limited by disruptive collisions with the largest ring particles in the particle size distribution.

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