Resonance locking as the source of rapid tidal migration in the Jupiter and Saturn moon systems

Jim Fuller, Jing Luan, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


The inner moons of Jupiter and Saturn migrate outwards due to tidal energy dissipation within the planets, the details of which remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that resonance locking between moons and internal oscillation modes of the planet can produce rapid tidal migration. Resonance locking arises due to the internal structural evolution of the planet and typically produces an outward migration rate comparable to the age of the Solar system. Resonance locking predicts a similar migration time-scale but a different effective tidal quality factor Q governing the migration of each moon. The theory also predicts nearly constant migration time-scales a function of semimajor axis, such that effective Q values were larger in the past. Recent measurements of Jupiter and Saturn's moon systems find effective Q values that are smaller than expected (and are different between moons), and which correspond to migration time-scales of ~10 Gyr. If confirmed, the measurements are broadly consistent with resonance locking as the dominant source of tidal dissipation in Jupiter and Saturn. Resonance locking also provides solutions to several problems posed by current measurements: it naturally explains the exceptionally small Q governing Rhea's migration, it allows the large heating rate of Enceladus to be achieved in an equilibrium eccentricity configuration, and it resolves evolutionary problems arising from present-day migration/heating rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3867-3879
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 17 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Planets and satellites: Dynamical evolution and stability
  • Planets and satellites: Physical evolution
  • Waves


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