Entwined and Parallel Bundled Orbits as Alternative Models for Narrow Planetary Ringlets

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Science  22 Jul 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4608, pp. 361-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.221.4608.361


Particle orbits can be bundled in two different ways to produce narrow, Uranus-type ringlets. The usual assumption is that they are packed in a parallel manner in a structure that is essentially only two-dimensional, but it is then difficult to explain the large numbers of particles per unit area of the ring plane that are inferred from the observations. The alternative of a bundle of entwined orbits produces a three-dimensional structure of potentially large projected areal density. A start has been made in identifying possible mechanisms for stabilizing these structures, but much remains to be done, particularly for the less-studied model of entwined orbits. The two models might be discriminated observationally by differences in the motion of the line of intersection of the orbital and equatorial planes, and by the predicted radial reversal (entwined) or nonreversal (parallel) of features in occultation signatures taken at certain longitudes.