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Komal Nadeem
Komal Nadeem
Komal Nadeem is based in Jhelum. She is doing BS. Biochemistry from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Her Interests are Reading books and novels, Gardening, Observing surroundings.
Saturn rings are disappearing this way.
Saturn rings are disappearing this way

Saturn rings are disappearing this way. Soon we will have Saturn in its ring free state.

The planet Saturn has an extensive set of planetary rings in the Solar System. These iconic rings make it easily recognizable. These rings actually consist of numerous small dust particles that are ranging in size from the micro meter (μm) to a few meters (m) in size and orbit around the Saturn.

Recently, researchers have found that the rings of Saturn are now getting smaller than the previously thought and consequently, this feature of the planet won’t last much longer. However, these rings are less than 100 million old and still are a “new feature” of the planet that would not be sticking around the planet longer.

Saturn rings
Saturn rings


The ring components are made entirely of icy water material with a trace amount of rocky material. The mechanism of their formation is still unknown. The theoretical models indicate that the rings were likely to have formed early in the Solar System’s history, but new research data from Cassini suggests that they were formed on the order of 100 million years. 

The picture was taken by “NASA’S CASSINI SPACECRAFT”, which shows the view as it would be seen by human eyes.
The picture was taken by “NASA’S CASSINI SPACECRAFT”, which shows the view as it
would be seen by human eyes.

-Why Does Saturn have rings around it?

Galileo was the first person to observe the rings around Saturn through his telescope in 1610. But for four centuries, astronomers have been contemplating them, but all their efforts ended up in vain to explain why these rings exist and orbit about the Saturn.

A closet to Satrun rings
A closet to Satrun rings

But the answer to this question is given by Robin Canup during his research last month. He has published a new theory of the formation of rings in the science journal. He proposed that “the rings are icy remnants of a bygone moon. When Saturn came into existence along with other satellites and planet in the solar system, one of the large moons of Saturn got so close in order to maintain a stable orbit.

The moon then started to moved spiral about Saturn inward as a conseq-uence, Saturn’s gravity ripped away from its icy outer layers and flung them into orbit to create the rings we see today. After 10,000 years, the moon’s rocky leftover crashed into Saturn and crumble.

Aggregates of Icy Particles that form
Aggregates of Icy Particles that form


As we know that the Saturn consists of a ring system that orbit around it and the rings have countless separate particles with sizes ranging from pea-sized to giant boulders. The rings are mainly composed of frozen water and they are actively dumping a large amount of ice onto the planet constantly. This rain is responsible for the rings to be disappeared within 3 million years and this rain will soon turn the Saturn to the ring less state. 

NASA Cassini reveals ring rain on Saturn.
NASA Cassini reveals ring rain on Saturn.


 A new research indicates that Saturn’s iconic rings are now getting smaller as previously observed and gradually disappearing at an extremely faster rate. The researchers from NASA found that the rings are draining away to-wards the planet as a dusty rain of ice particles. Since Saturn’s ring system mostly consists of water ice that ranges in size from microscopic dust to large boulders.

The ultraviolet light from the Sun and plasma clouds from tiny meteoroids strike charge the icy dust, which then becomes bound to Saturn’s magnetic field and pulled into the planet by gravity. This material rains into the pla-net and begins to disintegrate, allowing it to reacts chemically with the elec-trically charged part of Saturn’s upper atmosphere-the ionosphere. The ions glow in infrared light as a part of this process if the rain is light, but the emissions dim if the rain is heavy.

The Instruments attached to the Keck Telescope in Hawaii observed this rate of disappearance in the ring rain study and based on these observ-ations the scientists concluded that Saturn’s rings formed less than 100 million years ago. This means Saturn was not born this way, as the planet is known to be over 4 billion years old. And when the ring rain data is comb-ined with observations made by the Voyager 1 and 2 missions, scientists from NASA’s Goddard space station are able to estimate that the rings will be gone in 300 million years. So, if this rain doesn’t go away, Saturn will be ring-less another day. 


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