Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy

, Volume 57, Issue 1–2, pp 329–339 | Cite as

Nebular drag and capture into spin-orbit resonance

  • Othon C. Winter
  • Wagner Sessin
Attitude Dynamics


The majority of planetary satellites whose spin period is known are observed to be in synchronous spin-orbit resonance. The commonly accepted explanation for this observation is that it is due to the effects of tidal evolution. However, cosmogonic theories state that the formation of planetary and satellite systems occurs within a primordial solar nebula and circumplanetary nebulae, respectively. In this paper the influence of nebular drag on the capture into spin-orbit resonance is analysed. The results show that the torques generated are important for these resonances in a wide range of cases. Using the protojovian nebula model by Lunine and Stevenson (1982), conservative estimates of the despinning time scales for the Galilean satellites are computed. In comparison the despinning time scale from tidal effects are several orders of magnitude larger.

Key words

Spin-orbit resonance nebular drag 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Othon C. Winter
    • 1
  • Wagner Sessin
    • 2
  1. 1.Astronomy Unit, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary and Westfield CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonEngland
  2. 2.Departamento de Mecânica do Vôo e OrbitalInstituto Tecnológico de AeronáuticaSão José dos Campos, SPBrazil

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