Could SATURN lose its rings?

New data analysis collected by a NASA mission called “Kasini”, which orbited the planet between 2004 and 2017, she came up with new data on the age of Saturn’s rings, including when they might disappear. All research was published in three studies during May.

Our solar system and its planets formed about 4.6 billion years ago, and scientists have long debated the age and origin of Saturn’s rings.

Some astronomers argue that the bright, icy rings must be younger than expected because they have not been eroded and darkened by interactions with meteoroids over billions of years.

Data from of the “Kasini” mission, which led to new discoveries, were published on May 15, 2023 in the journal Icarus, which supports the theory of Saturn’s rings.

Additional studies were published May 12 in the journal Science Advance.

“Our conclusion is and are Saturn’s rings are relatively young – by astronomical standards, they are only a few hundred million years old. If you look at Saturn’s satellite system, there are other indications that something dramatic has happened there in the last few hundred million years. If Saturn’s rings are not as old as the planet, that means something happened to form their amazing structure, and that’s very exciting to study.” He said Richard Durisen, professor of astronomy at Indiana University Bloomington.

Researchers believe that the seven rings Saturn formed back in the age when dinosaurs walked the Earth. Saturn’s rings are mainly composed of ice, and only a small percentage belongs to rock dust created in space by broken fragments of asteroids and micrometeoroids.

The pieces, similar to grains of sand, collide with particles in Saturn’s rings and create floating debris as the ring material orbits the planet. The rings were observed to be losing many tons of mass per second, meaning that they did not have much time left, in aspect astronomerwalking.

According to recent research, Saturn’s rings could exist another few hundred million years.

During 13 years, the “Cassini” cosmic dust analyzer collectedabout is 163 pieces of “dust” originating outside the Saturn system. The rings were surprisingly “clean”, which suggested they weren’t capable to accumulate excess cosmic dust.

Meanwhile, as meteoroids infiltrate the rings, they push material inside Saturn’s ringsa at high speed. Thus the rings lose enormous mass per second, which means that the rings don’t have much time left, according to astronomers. Researchers estimate that the rings will exist for a few hundred million years at most.

Enduring mysteries

“We have shown that massive rings like Saturn’s do not last long. It can be speculated that the relatively faint rings are the remnants of rings that were once as massive as Saturn’s. “Maybe some time in the not-too-distant future, astronomically speaking, after Saturn’s rings collapse, they will look more like the rare rings of Uranus,” said Paul Estrada, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and co-author of all three studies.

It is assumed that they are the dark rings around Neptune and Uranus were once larger and brighter, as they are today Saturn’s rings.

Scientists don’t yet know for sure what created Saturn’s rings, but it’s possible that gravitational instability destroyed some of the icy rings which orbit the giant planet, creating enough material to they pull.

“Ako uspemo to find out “What happened in that system a few hundred million years ago to form the rings, we may discover why Saturn’s moon Enceladus ejects plumes of water, ice and even organic material from its deep oceans.” He said. We might even end up finding the building blocks of life itself on Enceladus,” Professor Durisen concluded.

Source: Sito&Rešeto by

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