Complete tidal evolution of PlutoCharon
Abstract
Both Pluto and its satellite Charon have rotation rates synchronous with their orbital mean motion. This is the theoretical end point of tidal evolution where transfer of angular momentum has ceased. Here we follow Pluto’s tidal evolution from an initial state having the current total angular momentum of the system but with Charon in an eccentric orbit with semimajor axis a≈4R_{P} (where R_{P} is the radius of Pluto), consistent with its impact origin. Two tidal models are used, where the tidal dissipation function Q∝1/frequency and Q = constant, where details of the evolution are strongly model dependent. The inclusion of the gravitational harmonic coefficient C_{22} of both bodies in the analysis allows smooth, self consistent evolution to the dual synchronous state, whereas its omission frustrates successful evolution in some cases. The zonal harmonic J_{2} can also be included, but does not cause a significant effect on the overall evolution. The ratio of dissipation in Charon to that in Pluto controls the behavior of the orbital eccentricity, where a judicious choice leads to a nearly constant eccentricity until the final approach to dual synchronous rotation. The tidal models are complete in the sense that every nuance of tidal evolution is realized while conserving total angular momentumincluding temporary capture into spinorbit resonances as Charon’s spin decreases and damped librations about the same.
 Publication:

Icarus
 Pub Date:
 May 2014
 DOI:
 10.1016/j.icarus.2014.01.046
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1402.0625
 Bibcode:
 2014Icar..233..242C
 Keywords:

 Astrophysics  Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
 EPrint:
 36 pages, including 18 figures