Expectations for Cassini Observations of Ring Material with Nearby Moons

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This paper describes N-body simulations of two regions of the saturnian ring system and examines what we might expect the Cassini orbiter to see in those areas. The first region is the edge of the Encke gap in the A ring that is perturbed by the satellite, Pan. Our previous simulations of this region neglected particle self-gravity [Lewis and Stewart, 2000a, Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 34, 883]. Here we examine the interactions of the wakes caused by Pan with the wakes that form from local gravitational instabilities. We find that the two phenomena do not normally coexist and predict that measurements of particle sizes between the moon wakes should reflect the true particle size distribution of the region and not what is caused by gravitational aggregation. The region between the Encke gap edge and the first wake peak is an exception to this rule because our simulations exhibit the formation of exceptionally large gravity-induced wakes in this region. We also describe simulations of the F ring and explain the nature of braid-like structures that form naturally when the ring is perturbed by a single moon on an eccentric orbit. Finally, we discuss the very dynamic nature of the F ring system and how this should be taken into account when interpreting observations and even when planning future observations of this system.






Ithaca, NY

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