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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 368-372 (2000)

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Density patterns induced by small moonlets in Saturn's rings?

F. Spahn 1 and M. Sremevi 2

1 Institute of Physics, University Potsdam, 14415 Potsdam, Germany
2 Faculty of Physics, University Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Yugoslavia

Received 29 February 2000 / Accepted 8 March 2000


An extension of the model of the gravitational scattering by moonlets in planetary rings to collisional diffusion is presented. The resulting typical propeller-shaped structures bear the chance to deduce the existence of larger ([FORMULA] meter) embedded bodies in planetary rings. Their spatial extensions provide estimates for the size of the embedded bodies and they contain information about the physical properties of the surrounding ring-material like the kinematic viscosity, mass-density, mean free path and collision frequency. The induced structures lie in the range of the resolution of the Cassini Imaging experiment, and thus, could be observed in near future.

Key words: planets and satellites: individual: rings – diffusion – hydrodynamics – scattering

Send offprint requests to: F. Spahn

Correspondence to: F. Spahn, Universität Potsdam, Institut für Physik, Lehrstuhl Nichtlineare Dynamik, Am Neuen Palais 10, Haus 19, 14415 Potsdam, Germany (Tel. +49 331 977 1626; Fax. +49 331 977 1142; e-mail: fspahn@agnld.uni-potsdam.de)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 26, 2000