Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1304.3735 (M. M. Hedman et al.)

Kronoseismology: Using density waves in Saturn's C ring to probe the planet's interior    [PDF]

M. M. Hedman, P. D. Nicholson
Saturn's C ring contains multiple spiral patterns that appear to be density waves driven by periodic gravitational perturbations. In other parts of Saturn's rings, such waves are generated by Lindblad resonances with Saturn's various moons, but most of the wave-like C-ring features are not situated near any strong resonance with any known moon. Using stellar occultation data obtained by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) onboard the Cassini spacecraft, we investigate the origin of six unidentified C-ring waves located between 80,900 and 87,200 km from Saturn's center. By measuring differences in the waves' phases among the different occultations, we are able to determine both the number of arms in each spiral pattern and the speeds at which these patterns rotate around the planet. We find that all six of these waves have between 2 and 4 arms and pattern speeds between 1660 degrees/day and 1861 degrees/day. These speeds are too large to be attributed to any satellite resonance. Instead they are comparable to the predicted pattern speeds of waves generated by low-order normal-mode oscillations within the planet [Marley & Porco 1993, Icarus 106, 508]. The precise pattern speeds associated with these waves should therefore provide strong constraints on Saturn's internal structure. Furthermore, we identify multiple waves with the same number of arms and very similar pattern speeds, indicating that multiple m=3 and m=2 sectoral (l=m) modes may exist within the planet.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.3735

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