He is famous for his theory that the planetary rings of Saturn were formed when a large moon came too close to Saturn and was pulled apart by gravitational forces. This effect is described in the Roche limit.
The Roche limit which is the distance at which an object held together only by gravity begins to break up due to tidal forces. The Roche lobe describes the limits at which an object which is in orbit around two other objects will be captured by one or the other. The Roche sphere which approximates the gravitational sphere of influence of one astronomical body in the face of perturbations from another heavier body around which it orbits.
Born in Montpellier, he was appointed professor at his alma mater, the University of Montpellier, where he served in the Faculté des Sciences starting in 1849. Roche made a mathematical study of Laplace's nebular hypothesis and presented his results in a series of papers to the Academy of Montpellier from his appointment until 1877. The most important were on Comets (1860) and the Nebular Hypothesis itself (1873). As can been seen, Roche's studies examined the effects of strong gravitational fields upon swarms of tiny particles.
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