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Towards a theory for the uranian rings

Naturevolume 277pages9799 (1979) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Interparticle collisions, radiation drag and differential precession all tend to disrupt the rings of Uranus. The first two effects lead to radial spreading which would disrupt a free ring in 108 yr. We propose that the rings are confined in radius by gravitational torques from a series of small satellites that orbit within the ring system. Differential precession tends to destroy the apse alignment of the elliptical ε ring. We suggest that apse alignment is maintained by the self-gravity of the ring. The resulting mass of the ε ring is 5 ×1018 g. Its radial confinement requires (for example) a pair of satellites of mass 1019 g, in circular orbits roughly 500 km away on either side of the ring.

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Affiliations

  1. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 91125

    • Peter Goldreich
  2. Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, 08540

    • Scott Tremaine

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https://doi.org/10.1038/277097a0

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