Self-gravity wakes and radial structure of Saturn's B ring
Abbreviated Journal Title
Saturn; rings; planetary rings; AZIMUTHAL BRIGHTNESS VARIATIONS; VISCOUS OVERSTABILITY; IRREGULAR; STRUCTURE; SIMULATIONS; DISK; OCCULTATION; PARTICLES; STABILITY; Astronomy & Astrophysics
We analyze stellar occultations by Saturn's rings observed with the Cassini Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph and find large variations in the apparent normal optical depth of the B ring with viewing angle. The line-of-sight optical depth is roughly independent of the viewing angle out of the ring plane so that optical depth is independent of the path length of the line-of-sight. This suggests the ring is composed of virtually opaque clumps separated by nearly transparent gaps, with the relative abundance of clumps and gaps controlling the observed optical depth. The observations can be explained with a model of self-gravity wakes like those observed in the A ring. These trailing spiral density enhancements are due to the competing processes of self-gravitational accretion of ring particles and Kepler shear. The B ring wakes are flatter and more closely packed than their neighbors in the A ring, with height-to-width ratios < 0. I for most of the ring. The self-gravity wakes are seen in all regions of the B ring that are not opaque. The observed variation in total B ring optical depth is explained by the amount of relatively empty space between the self-gravity wakes. Wakes are more tightly packed in regions where the apparent normal optical depth is high, and the wakes are more widely spaced in lower optical depth regions. The normal optical depth of the gaps between the wakes is typically less than 0.5 and shows no correlation with position or overall optical depth in the ring. The wake height-to-width ratio varies with the overall optical depth, with flatter, more tightly packed wakes as the overall optical depth increases. The highly flattened profile of the wakes suggests that the self-gravity wakes in Saturn's B ring correspond to a monolayer of the largest particles in the ring. The wakes are canted to the orbital direction in the trailing sense, with a trend of decreasing cant angle with increasing orbital radius in the B ring. We present self-gravity wake properties across the B ring that can be used in radiative transfer modeling of the ring. A high radial resolution (similar to 10 m) scan of one part of the B ring during a grazing occultation shows a dominant wavelength of 160 m due to structures that have zero cant angle. These structures are seen at the same radial wavelength on both ingress and egress. but the individual peaks and troughs in optical depth do not match between ingress and egress. The structures are therefore not continuous ringlets and may be a manifestation of viscous overstability. (c) 2007 FIsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Self-gravity wakes and radial structure of Saturn's B ring" (2007). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 6972.