Report

The Formation of Jupiter's Faint Rings

Science  14 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5417, pp. 1146-1150
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5417.1146

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Abstract

Observations by the Galileo spacecraft and the Keck telescope showed that Jupiter's outermost (gossamer) ring is actually two rings circumscribed by the orbits of the small satellites Amalthea and Thebe. The gossamer rings' unique morphology—especially the rectangular end profiles at the satellite's orbit and the enhanced intensities along the top and bottom edges of the rings—can be explained by collisional ejecta lost from the inclined satellites. The ejecta evolves inward under Poynting-Robertson drag. This mechanism may also explain the origin of Jupiter's main ring and suggests that faint rings may accompany all small inner satellites of the other jovian planets.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jab16{at}cornell.edu

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