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Study Suggests Saturn's Rings Made By Ancient Moon Death Spiral

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the making-a-cosmic-mess dept.

Space 34

jibberjabber1 writes with news of a study published in Nature (abstract) that suggests Saturn's rings were created after a Titan-sized moon fell into the planet's atmosphere while the solar system was still young. "One of the leading theories has been that either some of Saturn's many moons crashed into each other, or that an asteroid crashed into one of them — leaving debris that formed the rings. The trouble has been that Saturn's moons are half ice and half rock and the planet's seven rings are now as much as 95 per cent ice, Robin says. If the rings were formed by a moon-on-moon crash or an asteroid-on-moon crash, there would be more rock in the rings. Something had to have stripped away the outer ice of a moon, she says. Her theory starts billions of years ago when the planet's moons were forming. A large disk of hydrogen gas circled Saturn and that helped both create and destroy moons. Large inner moons probably made regular plunges into the planet, jostled by the disk of gas. These death spirals each took about 10,000 years and the key to understanding the rings' origins is what happened to them during that time. According to Robin's computer model, Saturn stripped the ice away from a huge moon while it was far enough from the planet that the ice would be trapped in a ring. The original rings were 10 to 100 times larger than they are now, but over time the ice in the outer rings has coalesced into some of Saturn's tiny inner moons, Robin says." In other astronomy news, the Geminid meteor shower is due to reach its peak tonight.

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34 comments

We can fix that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34539802)

A little Scrubbing Bubbles [scrubbingbubbles.com] will clean those rings right off.

Re:We can fix that. (0)

clone52431 (1805862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34539882)

I honestly can’t figure out whether this was an actual attempt to advertise that website or just somebody trying to be funny. It’s more than a little unsettling...

Re:We can fix that. (4, Funny)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34539910)

Perhaps he should be tested? [xkcd.com]

Re:We can fix that. (3, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34539996)

Perhaps he should be tested? [xkcd.com]

Ahhh, I love links like that about /. I honestly find it amazing how photographic the average memory here seems to be. It's like anyone can drop a comment/topic and a bunch of links to humor just appear - yet they are for the most part very spot on.

Kudos to you sir!

Re:We can fix that. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34539916)

Scrub off that phishy odour with Antibacterial fantastik® All Purpose Cleaner Lemon Power®!

Saturnalia (5, Funny)

taucross (1330311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34539974)

Just in time for Saturnalia! The Titan-sized moon didn't fall into Saturn's atmosphere - it was swallowed.

Re:Saturnalia (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540418)

Just in time for Saturnalia! The Titan-sized moon didn't fall into Saturn's atmosphere - it was swallowed.

Swallowed? Saturnalia?

I'm not touching this one.

Re:Saturnalia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34542438)

Oooooh, some hot moon-on-moon action... mmmm...

Easy to check (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540196)

Why don't we follow the time proven scientific methods to determine the validity of this theory. We'll have a bunch of random people vote on it, and get a consensus. Of course, we'll make sure the descriptions of the possible causes outside of our chosen selection are made to sound extremely stupid. It workes so well for GW, so why not other areas as well?

Check out the other great theories (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540342)

Pull out your copy of Immanuel Velikovsky's books, and you'll know exactly how it came to be.

Earth space junk (1)

vikstar (615372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540464)

I wonder if Earth's space junk will, in time, move to form rings around earth.

Re:Earth space junk (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34546190)

I doubt it, but at one time the earth did have a ring, acording to present theory.

A Mars-sized body smashed into the earth, and the molten material splashed into orbit. The ring(s) eventually came together to form the moon.

It seems to me that this is more likely what happened to Saturn than having a one of its moons swallowed. Another body not in Saturn's orbit could be travelling a lot faster than one in orbit. Saturn's pretty big, seems its gravity coould prevent a moon from splashing very far.

Anyone care to do the math and tell me if I'm anywhere near reight?

That was no moon (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540492)

Now we finally know what happened to the Death Star.

Re:That was no moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34540648)

Obi-Wan: That's no longer a moon.

I haven't even seen the movie the original quote came from. I just decided to make a silly parody using comedic skill little greater than that of an automaton. Please mod me Funny.

That's ridiculous! (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34540744)

Everyone knows that Saturn's rings were created 3 million years ago, when aliens destroyed a moon to build the Star Gate on Iapetus!

Re:That's ridiculous! (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#34566814)

Pfft, be realistic. The first stargate in our solar system was put here ~50 Million years ago by the ancients.

I am disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34541010)

Why is this not tagged Anti-Spiral?

Appreciate your sharing...... (0)

Jon Niham (1958530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34543948)

Appreciate your sharing, I always enjoy reading quality articles by an author who is obviously knowledgeable on their chosen subject. I’ll be following this thread with great interest. Keep up the good work, till next time great post.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing. Herbs [sda-spice.com]

Ha! Ismell conspiracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34544288)

Ok, can't resist this oldie - everyone knows the rings of Saturn are made of lost airline luggage!

disks in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34544324)

A large disk of hydrogen gas circled Saturn and that helped both create and destroy moons. Large inner moons probably made regular plunges into the planet, jostled by the disk of gas.

Being that long ago, I bet it was a 5¼ incher.

Could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550434)

Eh, could've been worse. A large Titan-sized object could have fallen into Uranus.
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