Saturn dropping rings at ‘worst-case-scenario’ price

Saturn is dropping its rings at a “worst-case-scenario” price in line with new analysis by NASA.

The fuel large’s iconic rings are being pulled into the planet by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles beneath the affect of the planet’s magnetic subject.

“We estimate that this ‘ring rain’ drains an quantity of water merchandise that would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool from Saturn’s rings in half an hour,” mentioned James O’Donoghue of NASA.

“From this alone, your complete ring system shall be gone in 300 million years,” Mr O’Donoghue added, however famous that really the state of affairs was way more dire.

Measurements of ring-material detected falling into Saturn’s equator by the Cassini spacecraft recommend that the rings even have lower than 100 million years to dwell.

“That is comparatively brief, in comparison with Saturn’s age of over 4 billion years,” acknowledged Mr O’Donoghue, who’s the lead writer of the research on Saturn’s ring rain.

The origins of Saturn’s rings have lengthy puzzled scientists, who’re nonetheless not sure if the planet was shaped with the rings or if it acquired them at a later stage.

Based on the findings of the brand new analysis, it’s now thought-about to be extra probably that it acquired the rings after it shaped.

A Voyager 2 image of Saturn
Picture:
Saturn’s rings are prone to be youthful than 100 million years

The research suggests Saturn’s rings are unlikely to be older than 100 million years.

“We’re fortunate to be round to see Saturn’s ring system, which seems to be in the course of its lifetime.

“Nonetheless, if rings are short-term, maybe we simply missed out on seeing large ring techniques of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, which have solely skinny ringlets in the present day!” added Mr O’Donoghue.

There are a variety of theories which might clarify the origin of the rings.

Among the many most distinguished is the suggestion that they happened when small icy moons collided, maybe after their orbits had been disturbed by a passing asteroid or comet.

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