web analytics

October 2, 2015: Saturn Ring Seismology: Complex Interactions Between the Planet, the Rings, and the Moons

Posted on Sep 28, 2015 in Seminars

Jim Fuller (Caltech)

The rich dynamics of the Saturn ring and moon systems offer unique opportunities to study the evolution of the planet and its surrounding bodies. For instance, seismology of Saturn is made possible by the gravitational interaction between Saturn and its rings, in which density waves in the rings are excited at Lindblad resonances with Saturn’s oscillation modes. The seismic signatures in the rings suggest the existence of stable stratification in the deep interior of the planet, likely created by composition gradients between the core and envelope due to helium sedimentation and/or core erosion. These structures within the planet influence the tidal interactions which drive the outward migration of Saturn’s inner satellites. Rapid migration can occur when moons become locked in resonance with Saturn’s oscillation modes, driving the moons outward on a planetary evolution timescale.