Special Reports

Clump Detections and Limits on Moons in Jupiter's Ring System

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Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 232-234
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147647

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Abstract

The dusty jovian ring system must be replenished continuously from embedded source bodies. The New Horizons spacecraft has performed a comprehensive search for kilometer-sized moons within the system, which might have revealed the larger members of this population. No new moons were found, however, indicating a sharp cutoff in the population of jovian bodies smaller than 8-kilometer-radius Adrastea. However, the search revealed two families of clumps in the main ring: one close pair and one cluster of three to five. All orbit within a brighter ringlet just interior to Adrastea. Their properties are very different from those of the few other clumpy rings known; the origin and nonrandom distribution of these features remain unexplained, but resonant confinement by Metis may play a role.

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