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Title: Magnetic Field Effects on the Motion of Circumplanetary Dust
Authors: Jontof-Hutter, Daniel
Advisors: Hamilton, Douglas P
Department/Program: Astronomy
Type: Dissertation
Sponsors: Digital Repository at the University of Maryland
University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
Subjects: Astronomy
Keywords: Dust
Planetary Rings
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Hypervelocity impacts on satellites or ring particles replenish circumplanetary dusty rings with grains of all sizes. Due to interactions with the plasma environment and sunlight, these grains become electrically charged. We study the motion of charged dust grains launched at the Kepler orbital speed, under the combined effects of gravity and the electromagnetic force. We conduct numerical simulations of dust grain trajectories, covering a broad range of launch distances from the planetary surface to beyond synchronous orbit, and the full range of charge-to-mass ratios from ions to rocks, with both positive and negative electric potentials. Initially, we assume that dust grains have a constant electric potential, and, treating the spinning planetary magnetic field as an aligned and centered dipole, we map regions of radial instability (positive grains only), where dust grains are driven to escape or collide with the planet at high speed, and vertical instability (both positive and negative charges) whereby grains launched near the equatorial plane and are forced up magnetic field lines to high latitudes, where they may collide with the planet. We derive analytical criteria for local stability in the equatorial plane, and solve for the boundaries between all unstable and stable outcomes. Comparing our analytical solutions to our numerical simulations, we develop an extensive model for the radial, vertical and azimuthal motions of dust grains of arbitrary size and launch location. We test these solutions at Jupiter and Saturn, both of whose magnetic fields are reasonably well represented by aligned dipoles, as well as at the Earth, whose magnetic field is close to an anti-aligned dipole. We then evaluate the robustness of our stability boundaries to more general conditions. Firstly, we examine the effects of non-zero launch speeds, of up to 0.5 km s$^{-1}$, in the frame of the parent body. Although these only weakly affect stability boundaries, we find that the influence of a launch impulse on stability boundaries strongly depends on its direction. Secondly, we focus on the effects of higher-order magnetic field components on orbital stability. We find that vertical stability boundaries are particularly sensitive to a moderate vertical offset in an aligned dipolar magnetic field. This configuration suffices as a model for Saturn's full magnetic field. The vertical instability also expands to cover a wider range of launch distances in slightly tilted magnetic dipoles, like the magnetic field configurations for Earth and Jupiter. By contrast, our radial stability criteria remain largely unaffected by both dipolar tilts and vertical offsets. Nevertheless, a tilted dipole magnetic field model introduces non-axisymmetric forces on orbiting dust grains, which are exacerbated by the inclusion of other higher-order magnetic field components, including the quadrupolar and octupolar terms. Dust grains whose orbital periods are commensurate with the spatial periodicities of a rotating non-axisymmetric magnetic field experience destabilizing Lorentz resonances. These have been studied by other authors for the largest dust grains moving on perturbed Keplerian ellipses. With Jupiter's full magnetic field as our model, we extend the concept of Lorentz resonances to smaller dust grains and find that these can destabilize trajectories on surprisingly short timescales, and even cause negatively-charged dust grains to escape within weeks. We provide detailed numerically-derived stability maps highlighting the destabilizing effects of specific higher-order terms in Jupiter's magnetic field, and we develop analytical solutions for the radial locations of these resonances for all charge-to-mass ratios. We include stability maps for the full magnetic field configurations of Jupiter, Saturn, and Earth, to compare with our analytics. We further provide numerically-derived stability maps for the tortured magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune. Relaxing the assumption of constant electric charges on dust, we test the effects of time-variable grain charging on dust grain motion in two distinct environments. Firstly, we examine orbital stability in the tenuous plasma of Jupiter's main ring and gossamer ring where sunlight, the dominant source of grain charging, is periodically interrupted by transit through the planetary shadow. This dramatically expands dynamical instabilities to cover a large range of grain sizes. Secondly, we study the motion of dust grain orbits in the dense plasma environment of the Io torus. Here dust grain charges deviate little from equilibrium, and our stability map conforms closely to that of constant, negatively-charged dust grains. Finally, we focus on the poorly understood spokes in Saturn's B ring, highlighting the observational constraints on spokes, and present our hypothesis for spoke formation.
Appears in Collections:Astronomy Theses and Dissertations
UMD Theses and Dissertations

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