Saturn's F Ring core: Calm in the midst of chaos
Abbreviated Journal Title
Planetary rings; Satum, rings; Resonances, orbital; Celestial Mechanics; PLANETARY RINGS; NARROW RINGLETS; PROMETHEUS; SATELLITE; DYNAMICS; MOONLET; RESONANCES; KINEMATICS; EVOLUTION; ORBITS; Astronomy & Astrophysics
The long-term stability of the narrow F Ring core has been hard to understand. Instead of acting as "shepherds", Prometheus and Pandora together stir the vast preponderance of the region into a chaotic state, consistent with the orbits of newly discovered objects like S/2004 S 6. We show how a comb of very narrow radial locations of high stability in semimajor axis is embedded within this otherwise chaotic region. The stability of these semimajor axes relies fundamentally on the unusual combination of rapid apse precession and long synodic period which characterizes the region. This situation allows stable "antiresonances" to fall on or very close to traditional Lindblad resonances which, under more common circumstances, are destabilizing. We present numerical integrations of tens of thousands of test particles over tens of thousands of Prometheus orbits that map out the effect. The stable antiresonance zones are most stable in a subset of the region where Prometheus first-order resonances are least cluttered by Pandora resonances. This region of optimum stability is paradoxically closer to Prometheus than a location more representative of "torque balance", helping explain a longstanding paradox. One stable zone corresponds closely to the currently observed semimajor axis of the F Ring core. Corotation resonance may also play a role. While the model helps explain the stability of the narrow F Ring core, it does not explain why the F Ring material all shares a common apse longitude; we speculate that collisional damping at the preferred semimajor axis (not included in the current simulations) may provide that final step. Essentially, we find that the F Ring core is not confined by a combination of Prometheus and Pandora, but a combination of Prometheus and precession. Published by Elsevier Inc.
"Saturn's F Ring core: Calm in the midst of chaos" (2014). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 5215.