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Ridge Formation and De-Spinning of Iapetus via an Impact-Generated Satellite

By H. F. Levison, K. J. Walsh, A. C. Barr and L. Dones


We present a scenario for building the equatorial ridge and de-spinning Iapetus through an impact-generated disk and satellite. This impact puts debris into orbit, forming a ring inside the Roche limit and a satellite outside. This satellite rapidly pushes the ring material down to the surface of Iapetus, and then itself tidally evolves outward, thereby helping to de-spin Iapetus. This scenario can de-spin Iapetus an order of magnitude faster than when tides due to Saturn act alone, almost independently of its interior geophysical evolution. Eventually, the satellite is stripped from its orbit by Saturn. The range of satellite and impactor masses required is compatible with the estimated impact history of Iapetus.Comment: 19 pages, 3 figures; Icarus, in pres

Topics: Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.icarus.2011.05.031
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