Journal Article

Charging of ice grains in Saturn’s E ring: theory and observations

Shikha Misra, S. K. Mishra and M. S. Sodha

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 423, issue 1, pages 176-184
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20774.x
Charging of ice grains in Saturn’s E ring: theory and observations

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We have developed a theoretical model for a physical understanding of the charging of ice grains in the plasma of Saturn’s E ring. The evaluated results are compared with the available observations and measurements from the Cassini, Hubble Space Telescope, Voyager and Pioneer campaigns. In this formulation, we implement the uniform potential theory, taking into account the size distribution of ice grains, in order to investigate the charging kinetics. The analysis is based on the number and energy balance of the constituents with inherent charge neutrality in the complex plasma system. In this paper, we incorporate pure ice as well as sodium-enriched ice particles. For computational purposes, we have considered only the plasma environment near the orbits of Saturn’s icy moons. As an interesting feature, the theory explains the observed range of potential on the ice grains in Saturn’s E ring. The available data on the plasma of Saturn’s E ring and the size distribution of ice particles have been used in the computations.

Keywords: plasmas; planets and satellites: rings

Journal Article.  7160 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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