Neptune's Partial Rings: Action of Galatea on Self-Gravitating Arc Particles

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1102-1104
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1102

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Numerical simulations of Neptune's arcs show that self-gravity between macroscopic arc particles can prevent interparticle impacts and thereby stabilize their resonant confinement by Galatea, a satellite of Neptune. Stable subkilometer arc particles provide a source for replenishing the observed dust and explain the clumpy substructure seen in arcs. A few confining kilometer-sized particles between the major arc components can account for the observed arc widths spanning several resonance sites. The modeled distribution of dust is consistent with observations and helps to explain how embedded satellites may affect the structure and evolution of planetary ring systems.

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