Fractal planetary rings: Energy inequalities and random field model

Anatoliy Malyarenko, Martin Ostoja-Starzewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is motivated by a recent observation, based on photographs from the Cassini mission, that Saturn's rings have a fractal structure in radial direction. Accordingly, two questions are considered: (1) What Newtonian mechanics argument in support of such a fractal structure of planetary rings is possible? (2) What kinematics model of such fractal rings can be formulated? Both challenges are based on taking planetary rings' spatial structure as being statistically stationary in time and statistically isotropic in space, but statistically nonstationary in space. An answer to the first challenge is given through an energy analysis of circular rings having a self-generated, noninteger-dimensional mass distribution [V. E. Tarasov, Int. J. Mod Phys. B 19, 4103 (2005)]. The second issue is approached by taking the random field of angular velocity vector of a rotating particle of the ring as a random section of a special vector bundle. Using the theory of group representations, we prove that such a field is completely determined by a sequence of continuous positive-definite matrix-valued functions defined on the Cartesian square F2 of the radial cross-section F of the rings, where F is a fat fractal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1750236
JournalInternational Journal of Modern Physics B
Issue number30
StatePublished - Dec 10 2017


  • Planetary rings
  • dynamics
  • fractal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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