The strands of the F ring disturbed by its closest satellites

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Winter, S. M. Giuliatti [UNESP]
Mourao, D. C. [UNESP]
Freitas, T. C. A. [UNESP]

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Elsevier B.V.


Some Voyager images showed that the F ring of Saturn is composed of at least four separate, non-intersecting, strands covering about 45 degrees in longitude. According to Murray et al. [Murray, C.D., Gordon, M., Giuliatti Winter, S.M. Unraveling the strands of Saturn's F ring. Icarus 129, 304, 1997.] this structure may be caused by undetected satellites embedded in the gaps.Due to precession, the satellites Prometheus and Pandora and the ring particles can experience periodic close encounters. Giuliatti Winter et al. [Giuliatti Winter, S.M, Murray, C.D., Gordon, M. Perturbations to Saturn's F-ring strands at their closest approach to Prometheus. Plan. Space Sciences, 48, 817, 2000.] analysed the behaviour of these four strands at closest approach with the satellite Prometheus. Their work suggests that Prometheus can induce the ring particles to scatter in the direction of the planet, thus increasing the population of small bodies in this region.In this work we analysed the effects of Prometheus on the radial structure of Saturn's F ring during the Voyager and early Cassini epochs. Our results show that at Voyager epoch Prometheus, and also Pandora, had a negligible influence in the strands. However, during the Cassini encounter Prometheus could affect the strands significantly, scattering particles of the inner strand in the direction of the planet. This process can contribute to the replenishment of material in the region between the F ring and the A ring, where two rings have recently been discovered [Porco, C. et al. Cassini imaging science. Initial results on Saturn's rings and small Satellites. Science, 307, 1226, 2005].We also analyse the behaviour of undetected satellites under the effects of these two satellites by computing the Lyapunov Characteristic Exponent. Our results show that these satellites have a chaotic behaviour which leads to a much more complex scenario. The new satellite S/2004 S6 also presents a chaotic behaviour with can alter the dynamic of the system, since this satellite crosses the orbit of the strands. (C) 2006 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



planetary rings, numerical simulations, Lyapunov Characteristic Exponent, solar system dynamics

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Advances In Space Research. Oxford: Elsevier B.V., v. 38, n. 4, p. 781-787, 2006.