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TOPIC: Moons in our Solar System


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Title: Formation of Regular Satellites from Ancient Massive Rings in the Solar System
Authors: A. Crida, S. Charnoz

When a planetary tidal disk -like Saturn's rings- spreads beyond the Roche radius (inside which planetary tides prevent aggregation), satellites form and migrate away. Here, we show that most regular satellites in the solar system probably formed in this way. According to our analytical model, when the spreading is slow, a retinue of satellites appear with masses increasing with distance to the Roche radius, in excellent agreement with Saturn's, Uranus', and Neptune's satellite systems. This suggests that Uranus and Neptune used to have massive rings that disappeared to give birth to most of their regular satellites. When the spreading is fast, only one large satellite forms, as was the case for Pluto and Earth. This conceptually bridges the gap between terrestrial and giant planet systems.

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Posts: 131433
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As of October 2008, there are 327 formally classified moons, including 166 moons orbiting six of the eight "full-size" planets (Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), while six orbit the "dwarf" planets (Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris).


The moons of our Solar System are very special objects - worlds in their own right - that by studying them, help us to understand how our own world formed. Some could harbour the secrets of life on Earth.

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