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Formation of irregular and runaway moons/exomoons through moon-moon scattering

By SpaceRef Editor
July 17, 2014
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Formation of irregular and runaway moons/exomoons through moon-moon scattering
Hagai B. Perets, Matthew J. Payne (Submitted on 9 Jul 2014)
Gas giant planets in the Solar system host large satellite systems with multiple regular and irregular moons. Regular moons revolve around their host planet in circular, low inclination short period orbits, and are thought to form in-situ through coagulation processes. In contrast, irregular moons have highly inclined (and even retrograde), typically eccentric and long period orbits around their host planet. Irregular moons are therefore often thought to be unbound objects in helio-centric orbits that were later captured to their current orbits around the planet. 
Here we study the a different possibility in which regular moons form in-situ, and dynamically evolve through mutual moon-moon scattering. We find that such evolution can excite the satellites into high eccentricities and inclinations. We find that moons are either ejected from the host planet to become runaway moons, or stay bound and become prograde orbiting irregular moons with inclined and eccentric orbits around their host planet. 
Ejected moons, unbound to the planet, can later be temporarily re-captured by the host planet even at retrograde orbits. Such moons are eventually re-ejected from the system or collide with the planet, at least in the absence of dissipative processes (e.g. collisions with existing bound moons, a debris disk or through tidal interactions with the host planet), not currently modeled. Uncaptured runaway moons may eventually be ejected from the Solar system, or be captured into stable helio-centric orbits and contribute to the populations of asteroidal or trans-Neptunian objects. Such scenarios are potentially relevant both for the gas-giant satellites in the Solar system and for the dynamical evolution of exomoons.
Comments: Comments are welcome Subjects:
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1407.2619 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1407.2619v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history From: Hagai B. Perets [v1] Wed, 9 Jul 2014 20:00:51 GMT (484kb) 

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