Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stable Co-orbital Islands

Spin-orbit resonances and rotation of coorbital bodies in quasi-circular orbits


Robutel et al


The rotation of asymmetric bodies in eccentric Keplerian orbits can be chaotic when there is some overlap of spin-orbit resonances. Here we show that the rotation of two coorbital bodies (two planets orbiting a star or two satellites of a planet) can also be chaotic even for quasi-circular orbits around the central body. When dissipation is present, the rotation period of a body on a nearly circular orbit is believed to always end synchronous with the orbital period. Here we demonstrate that for coorbital bodies in quasi-circular orbits, stable non-synchronous rotation is possible for a wide range of mass ratios and body shapes. We further show that the rotation becomes chaotic when the natural rotational libration frequency, due to the axial asymmetry, is of the same order of magnitude as the orbital libration frequency.

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