skip to main content

DIX Planetary Science Seminar

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Add to Cal
South Mudd 365
The Unusual Uranian Rings and Small Moons
Matthew M. Hedman, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Idaho,

A complex system of rings and small moons can be found between Uranus and its five largest satellites. These are both interesting objects in their own right and also might contain clues about both Uranus' interior and the long-term evolution of the satellite system. Many of the Uranian rings are remarkably narrow, suggesting that the ring material is being actively confined at specific locations. While a couple of rings are probably confined by the gravitational perturbations from known moons, many more probably cannot be confined in this way, and so require alternative explanations that could potentially involve interactions with structures inside the planet itself. Meanwhile, the small moons between the rings and Miranda are the most tightly packed satellite system known, and the tidal evolution in this region could cause material to cycle back and forth between being rings and moons multiple times. Striking differences between the surface properties of these small moons and Uranus' larger satellites could reflect this peculiar evolutionary history, but could also potentially document a primordial compositional gradient created during the impact event that may have produced Uranus' extreme tilt.

For more information, please contact Kim Paragas by phone at 626-395-6960 or by email at [email protected].