Numerical Simulations of Saturn's B Ring: Granular Friction as a Mediator between Self-Gravity and Viscous Overstability [EPA]

We study the B ring’s complex optical depth structure. The source of this structure may be the complex dynamics of the Keplerian shear and the self-gravity of the ring particles. The outcome of these dynamic effects depends sensitively on the collisional and physical properties of the particles. Two mechanisms can emerge that dominate the macroscopic physical structure of the ring: self-gravity wakes and viscous overstability. Here we study the interplay between these two mechanisms by using our recently developed particle collision method that allows us to better model the inter-particle contact physics. We find that for a constant ring surface density and particle internal density, particles with rough surfaces tend to produce axisymmetric ring features associated with the viscous overstability, while particles with smoother surfaces produce self-gravity wakes.

Read this paper on arXiv…

R. Ballouz, D. Richardson and R. Morishima
Thu, 16 Feb 17

Comments: 10 pages, 7 figures, Accepted for publication to the Astrophysical Journal