Radial profiles of the Phoebe ring, a vast debris disk around Saturn

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2016

Daniel Tamayo, Stephen R. Markham, Matthew M. Hedman, Joseph A. Burns, Douglas P. Hamilton
(Submitted on 11 Apr 2016)

We present observations at optical wavelengths with the Cassini Spacecraft's Imaging Science System of the Phoebe ring, a vast debris disk around Saturn that seems to be collisionally generated by its irregular satellites. The analysis reveals a radial profile from 80-260 Saturn radii (RS) that changes behavior interior to ≈110RS, which we attribute to either the moon Iapetus sweeping up small particles, or to orbital instabilities that cause the ring to flare up vertically. Our study yields an integrated I/F at 0.635 μm along Saturn's shadow in the Phoebe ring's midplane from 80-250 RS of 2.7+0.9−0.3×10−9. We develop an analytical model for the size-dependent secular dynamics of retrograde Phoebe ring grains, and compare this model to the observations. This analysis implies that 1) the "Phoebe" ring is partially sourced by debris from irregular satellites beyond Phoebe's orbit and 2) the scattered light signal is dominated by small grains (≲20μm in size). If we assume that the Phoebe ring is generated through steady-state micrometeoroid bombardment, this implies a power-law size distribution with index >4, which is unusually steep among solar system rings. This suggests either a steep size distribution of ejecta when material is initially released, or a subsequent process that preferentially breaks up large grains.

Comments: 17 pages, 14 figures. Accepted for publication in Icarus
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1604.03119 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1604.03119v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Daniel Tamayo
[v1] Mon, 11 Apr 2016 20:00:14 GMT (1668kb,D)


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