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Fine-scale structure formation in Saturn's rings

Dr. Henrik Latter

DAMTP, University of Cambridge

The rings of Saturn are composed of trillions of icy boulders ranging in size from a milimetres to metres. These particles undergo, on average, several very gentle collisions per orbit; in fact, their average impact velocity is barely 2 mm/s! But these seemingly innocuous interactions, when allied with their orbital motion, have considerable collective effects. Over relatively short time-scales they sculpt the disk into beautiful radial patterns. This talk presents an introduction to the fluid dynamics of planetary rings and concentrates on the theory of structure formation on short scales (0.1-10 km).