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Unraveling the strands of Saturn's F ring

January 1, 1997

Several high-resolution Voyager 2 images of Saturn's F ring show that it is composed of at least four separate, non-intersecting strands extending ~45?? in longitude. Voyager 1 images show that the two brightest strands appear to intersect, giving rise to a "braided" morphology. From a study of all available Voyager images the detectable radial structure is cataloged and reviewed. Previous indications that there is fine material interior to the orbit of the F ring are confirmed. Evidence is presented that a model of four strands with comparable eccentricities and nearly aligned perichrones is consistent with all the Voyager observations. The observed perichrone offset of the two brightest strands suggests a minimum radial separation of ~20 km, which implies intersection of these strands when their finite radial widths are taken into account. The longitude range of such an intersection includes that observed in the Voyager 1 "braid" images. The proximity of these two strands at some longitudes may account for the apparent differences in the ring between the Voyager encounters, as well as provide a source for the short-lived features detected in the Hubble Space Telescope images of the F ring. There is no evidence that the locations of the individual strands are determined by resonant perturbations with known satellites. It is proposed that the radial structure is formed by the localized action of small satellites orbiting within the strand region. ?? 1997 Academic Press.

Publication Year 1997
Title Unraveling the strands of Saturn's F ring
DOI 10.1006/icar.1997.5774
Authors C.D. Murray, M.K. Gordon, Winter S.M. Giuliatti
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70019476
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse