The coupled orbital and thermal evolution of Triton
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright 1990 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 17, Issue 10, pages 1749–1752, September 1990
How to Cite
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 JUL 1990
- Manuscript Received: 30 MAR 1990
The coupled orbital and thermal evolution of Triton is simulated with a model of the satellite having temperature dependent k/Q (k is the second degree Love number and Q is the tidal dissipation factor). Large changes in orbital and interior properties occur in a short time span of less than 108 years. The peak tidal heating rate exceeds the radioactive heating rate by a factor of at least 103. The ability of tidal heating to overwhelm solid state convection and cause global melting is unequivocally demonstrated. Triton's initial thermal state and composition are shown to control the length of time that passes between capture from heliocentric orbit and the occurrence of swift and dramatic changes in orbital and internal properties. This time interval could have been several billion years.