Saturn ring particles as dynamic ephemeral bodies

Donald R. Davis, Stuart J. Weidenschilling, Clark R. Chapman, Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Although Saturn's rings are within the Roche zone, the accretion of centimeter-sized particles into large aggregates many meters in diameter occurs readily, on a time scale of weeks. These aggregates are disrupted when tidal stresses exceed their very low strengths; thus most of the mass of the ring system is continually processed through a population of large "dynamic ephemeral bodies," which are continually forming and disintegrating. These large aggregates are not at all like the idealized ice spheres often used in modeling Saturn's ring dynamics. Their coefficient of restitution is low, hence they form a monolayer in the ring plane. The optically observable characteristics of the rings are dominated by the swarm of centimeter-sized particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-747
Number of pages4
Issue number4650
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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