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, 313 (5790), 1107-9

Forced Resonant Migration of Pluto's Outer Satellites by Charon

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Forced Resonant Migration of Pluto's Outer Satellites by Charon

William R Ward et al. Science.

Abstract

Two small moons of Pluto have been discovered in low-eccentricity orbits exterior to Pluto's large satellite, Charon. All three satellite orbits are nearly coplanar, implying a common origin. It has been argued that Charon formed as a result of a giant impact with primordial Pluto. The orbital periods of the two new moons are nearly integer multiples of Charon's period, suggesting that they were driven outward by resonant interactions with Charon during its tidal orbital expansion. This could have been accomplished if Charon's orbit was eccentric during most of this orbital evolution, with the small moons originating as debris from the collision that produced Charon.

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