Neptune's Story
Abstract
It is conjectured that Triton was captured from a heliocentric orbit as the result of a collision with what was then one of Neptune's regular satellites. The immediate postcapture orbit was highly eccentric with a semimajor axis a ~ 10^{3}R_{N} and a periapse distance r_{p} that oscillated periodically above a minimum value of about 5R_{N}. Dissipation due to tides raised by Neptune in Triton caused Triton's orbit to evolve to its present state in lesssim 10^{9} years. For much of this time Triton was almost entirely molten. While its orbit was evolving, Triton cannibalized most of the regular satellites of Neptune and also perturbed Nereid, thus accounting for that satellite's highly eccentric and inclined orbit. The only regular satellites of Neptune that survived were those that formed well within 5R_{N} and they move on inclined orbits as the result of chaotic perturbations forced by Triton. Neptune's arcs are confined around the corotation resonances of one of these inner satellites. The widths and lengths of the arcs imply that the satellite's radius is at least 30/(sin i)^{2/3} kilometers for i lesssim 1, where i is the angle of inclination.
 Publication:

Science
 Pub Date:
 August 1989
 DOI:
 10.1126/science.245.4917.500
 Bibcode:
 1989Sci...245..500G
 Keywords:

 Neptune (Planet);
 Orbit Perturbation;
 Planetary Evolution;
 Triton;
 Nereid;
 Orbital Resonances (Celestial Mechanics);
 Planetary Orbits;
 Planetary Rings;
 Lunar and Planetary Exploration; Neptune;
 NEPTUNE;
 SATELLITES;
 HYPOTHESES;
 ORIGIN;
 CAPTURE;
 ORBITS;
 EVOLUTION;
 TIDAL EFFECTS;
 ORBITAL ELEMENTS;
 PERTURBATIONS;
 RING ARCS;
 ECCENTRICITY;
 INCLINATION;
 CALCULATIONS;
 GRAVITY EFFECTS;
 RINGS;
 FORMATION;
 DISSIPATION;
 CELESTIAL MECHANICS;
 GAS DRAG;
 COROTATION;
 RESONANCE