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Dynamics of Particles in E Rings of Saturn Near Enceladus' Orbit

Published Article
American Astronomical Society, DDA meeting
Publication Date
May 27, 2008
SETI Institute


Cassini observations have shown that Saturn's tenuous E Ring has a double-banded vertical structure, with the density of particles decreasing in the equatorial plane of the rings. We have conducted numerical simulations, using SWIFT, supported by order-of-magnitude analytical calculations, to investigate how the micron-sized ice particles behave in the vicinity of Enceladus' orbit to form the observed structure. Effect of Saturn, including its J2, and Enceladus are considered.The other moons have negligible effect over the 200- year integration. We follow the orbits of massless particles ejected from Enceladus' south pole with velocities ranging between 0.9 to 1.4 times the escape velocity at the moon's surface. Our results suggest that Enceladus causes the double-banded structure by attracting the particles towards the moon due to its gravity, that would otherwise pass at some distance away and then by eliminating the particles which collide with the moon. This creates a scarcity of particles in the equatorial plane which is manifested as a double-layered structure.

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