Letter | Published:

Resonance orbits and the rings of Uranus

Nature volume 274, pages 454455 (03 August 1978) | Download Citation



SOON after the discovery of the rings of Uranus1–3 it was suggested4 that the ring system might be determined by the perturbations of the satellite pairs Ariel–Titania and Ariel–Oberon. Aksnes5, and Goldreich and Nicholson6 have questioned this hypothesis; the latter showing that the strongest perturbations on the ring system can be expected to arise from the satellite pair Miranda-Ariel and the 4 : 1 resonance of Miranda. Goldreich and Nicholson also pointed out that the differences in the ring radii αβ, γδ and ε1ε2 are known to a high degree of accuracy (typically ±15 km) which is considerably better than the absolute ring radii. My calculations of the separations of these ring pairs reported here suggest that the radii of the α and γ rings, and perhaps the ε1 and ε2 components as reported by Elliott et al.1, are governed by the resonances of Miranda and Ariel, with consistent further application of resonance theory to the location of the β and δ rings requiring the presence of an additional hypothetical satellite moving around Uranus. Without this hypothesis the observed ring system seems to be outside the scope of resonance theory alone.

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  1. Lunar and Planetary Science Group, Department of Physics, University of Hull, Hull, UK



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