Galilean satellites: Evolutionary paths in deep resonance

Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The Laplace resonance among the inner three Galilean satellites (mean motions n1 - 3n2 + 2n3 = 0) has stable configurations in "deep resonance," i.e., where mean motions taken by pairs are in ratios very close to 2:1. The present satellite configuration, with the resonance variable φ ≡ λ1 - 3λ2 + 2λ3 stable at 180°, is unstable near this exact commensurability. But there is a continuous path of stable conditions branching from φ = 180° to higher and lower values of φ and toward very deep resonance, according to a theory extended to third order in orbital eccentricity. This path provides a track for tidal evolution of the system. Thus, scenarios involving evolution (probably episodic) from deep resonance are viable, and eliminate the requirement by the alternative equilibrium hypothesis for rapid tidal dissipation in Jupiter. Evolution out from deep resonance is consistent with the free eccentricity of Ganymede, the free libration of φ, and observational constraints on Io's secular acceleration. Also, the relatively large forced eccentricities in deep resonance may have controlled geophysical processes in the satellites by much greater tidal heating and global stress than at present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-347
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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