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Saturn's Moons Built From Ring Material

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the lookit-all-them-moons-up-there dept.

Space 115

LiquidCoooled writes "Two of Saturn's small moons look eerily like flying saucers, new observations by the Cassini spacecraft reveal. The moons, which lie within the giant planet's rings, may have come by their strange shape by gradually accumulating ring particles in a ridge around their equators."

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Actually relevant (3, Informative)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611585)

Wow, the "that's no moon" comments actually have some relevance now, as one can say "that's not moon... it's aggregated ring material that only looks like a moon!"

Re:Actually relevant (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611685)

The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet!

A planet/moon is just aggregated dust from something. Being aggregated ring dust doesn't make it less of a moon.

Re:Actually relevant (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611809)

The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet! Which Star Wars was that one from? See I find Science hard so I have to orient it around things I do understand, like science fiction. See I didn't understand just how devastating being left out unprotected in space could be, you know black body radiation and lack of oxygen, until I read the Hitchhiker's Guide. I also didn't understand the dangers of a robot killing frenzy (a proven scientific fact!) until I read Asimov. So until George Lucas or Ray Bradbury proves your assertion from above, please just stick to the proven facts. ;)

Re:Actually relevant (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615735)

I also didn't understand the dangers of a robot killing frenzy (a proven scientific fact!) until I read Asimov.

But Asimov only had one robot killing frenzy in his entire Robot series (although one other story LOOKED like it might devolve into one, soon after). You must mean Robert Silverberg.

Or else you are thinking of the movie version of I, Robot (version like The Thing was a version of Who Goes There?). But that would be silly.

Re:Actually relevant (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21611841)

Bush had been claiming for a significant period of time that there was no ring dust on those moons.
This finding just shows what a big liar Bush is.
He is such a big liar that he even claims to have been speaking English to the American people these many years. He has, in fact, been speaking Etruscan. The impedence mismatch between the two languages explains the rather inept speeches Bush delivers.

Re:Actually relevant (2, Funny)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612867)

Bravo..no really...pounding the anti-Bush rhetoric into a completely unrelated thread is awesome...

Okay, Folks, I'll hold him down, someone get his medication ready.

Re:Actually relevant (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612955)

Humm, who are you holding down, and who should we medicate ? The parent poster, or Bush ?

Re:Actually relevant (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614265)

Everyone. It's safer that way. I'll go first.

Re:Actually relevant (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614743)

Make sure you save some for me. I wanna be sedated...

Re:Actually relevant (1)

onion2k (203094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612285)

Our moon isn't aggregated dust, it's a chuck of Earth that was knocked off by an impact with something early in the life of the planet.

Re:Actually relevant (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612891)

If it came from a chunk of aggregated dust, doesnt that just make it a slightly more modified chunk of aggregated dust?

Re:Actually relevant (1)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614379)

No, our moon was a moon of Minerva until Minerva's two warring factions destroyed the planet and the moon was captured by Earth.

Inherit The Stars

Re:Actually relevant (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613839)

The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet!

Soylent Ring is People!
   

Re:Actually relevant (1)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611819)

Wow, the "that's no moon" comments actually have some relevance now, as one can say "that's not moon... it's aggregated ring material that only looks like a moon!"

Yeah, but how would it sound with Alex Guiness saying it?

Re:Actually relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21611943)

Alec Guinness hated the film and would probably tell you to "sod off, you wanker".

Can't say I blame him either.

Re:Actually relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612117)

"Saturn's moons built from ring material."
They're built from shit?

Re:Actually relevant (1)

debianlinux (548082) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612693)

Considering that a moon is defined as a naturally occurring satellite orbiting a planetary body the phrase "that's no moon" is still irrelevant.

Built? (2, Insightful)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611599)

By god, right? How about a better word, like 'consists?'

Re:Built? (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611713)

Built is a perfectly appropriate word. Consists simply tells what something is made of, built tells how. Since it didn't spontaneously pop into existence, built works fine.

Re:Built? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613237)

Yep, the point of these papers isn't composition, it's process.

Re:Built? (1)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613345)

Google says the definition of built is:

assembled: formed by fitting or joining components together
Does "fitting or joining" imply a fitter/joiner?

Re:Built? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613779)

no.

Re:Built? (-1, Troll)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611875)

There is nothing wrong with using built in the context of God and the Earth. The bible clearly indicates that the world was designed and then created.

Re:Built? (1)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613099)

-1 troll is bullcrap. The comment was never intended to be a troll (and yeah I'll happily burn some karma on this.) Just because you disagree with someones world view is no reason to mod them -1 troll.

Re:Built? (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614897)

C'mon - you have to admit that referring to a document that alleges that the lump we live on was built by a person in a matter of days - particularly in the middle of a discussion about the formation of such lumps over more natural time-spans - at least looks like a troll ;-)

Re:Built? (1)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613201)

The Bible does, but whether science does is highly debatable.

Ring Material (3, Funny)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611601)

Saturn's moons are made of Scrith?

Re:Ring Material (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611639)

heh, I made a comment about Louis Wu and Nessus in the original submission but it got removed.

OT: have you read Nivens new book (Fleet of Worlds) yet - I thought it was good.

Re:Ring Material (2, Funny)

OK PC (857190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612173)

Is Niven the guy who ripped off Halo?

(I kid, I kid!)

Re:Ring Material (1)

Marrow (195242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611699)

Re:Ring Material (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612447)

Nope, it's definitely "scrith": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrith#Scrith [wikipedia.org]

1970 comes before 1994. Imitators need not apply.

Re:Ring Material (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611977)

Saturn's moons are made of Scrith?

darn you CaseyB, you beat me to it...

Re:Ring Material (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612651)

Bastard! I was all ready with "So can we call them Ringworlds?"

Re:Ring Material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612805)

Saturn's moons built from ring material. One of them was forged in the fires of Mount Doom and it has an inscription:
One Moon to rule them all, One Moon to find them, One Moon to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Re:Ring Material (1)

un1quen1ck (972732) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614997)

No,no! Everybody knows that Saturn's rings are made from LOST AIRLINE LUGGAGE :)

That's no moon. (-1, Offtopic)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611623)

Or:

One moon to rule them all
One moon to find them
One moon to bring them all into the darkness
and bind them!

Okay, okay...hey! No hard fruits!

Re:That's no moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21611891)

Goddammit, it's:

Bring them all
and in the darkness bind them

Re:That's no moon. (1)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611903)

One moon to rule them all

One moon to find them

One moon to bring them all into the darkness

and bind them!

The problem is the ring overshadows the moon.

Re:That's no moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21614647)

Okay, okay...hey! No hard fruits!

Why would you want to ban sexually aroused homosexuals? What have they ever done to you?

Oooooooh . . . that!!! Was it painful? Well, I'm sure, for you, it was a good kind of painful.

Ring metal? Oh, bugger (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21611631)

I thought Frodo took care of all that.

Or Maybe... (5, Interesting)

nhstar (452291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611643)

Saturn's Rings are made of moon material? Is this chick or egg?

Re:Or Maybe... (2)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613957)

FYI:

The egg came before the chicken. That's just how evolution works. A non-chicken did not have all its DNA mutate mid-life turning it into a chicken. Instead, the zygote of the first chicken had all it's DNA intact at conception, passed along from two parents that were not quite chickens.

There is a lord of the rings joke here (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611657)

I just can't to seem to find it.

Moons are just LOTR spin offs

One moon to rule them all.

I hope they are better then The Silmarillion

Toss another story into the DUH file (1, Insightful)

Farakin (1101889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611671)

ummm, no shit?

Re:Toss another story into the DUH file (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612741)

In as much as it was previously thought that the moons *couldn't* grow in the ring-region (what with tides), I'm a little curious as to how come you think their grown is obvious.

Too much to ask? (3, Insightful)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611721)

Is it too much to ask that New Scientist stop using crappy CGI and start posting some of the actual photographs that the astronomers used to form their theories?

Re:Too much to ask? (3, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612773)

Since the data came from Cassini ISS and since we're the authors on the paper, I feel no qualms about suggesting visiting http://ciclops.org/view_event.php?id=73 [ciclops.org]

Finally, PROOF! (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612887)

One picture clearly shows a transmitter dish pointing directly at the Earth, which is the source of the navigational data for the black helicopters, as relayed by UFO's.

Crater? That's what they WANT you to think.

Re:Too much to ask? (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613481)

Is it too much to ask that New Scientist stop using crappy CGI and start posting some of the actual photographs that the astronomers used to form their theories?

Ideally you publish both. The actual photos are a bit hard for a non-expert to interpret. The stark lighting of space makes it difficult to see the full shape.
         

Re:Too much to ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613873)

I am willing to bet that my eyesight is as good or better than any expert. We just want to see the real pictures, is that so much to ask for a news article to provide?

Re:Too much to ask? (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613685)

Yes.

They're selling science news, not making scientific discoveries. Important, subtle difference there.

Re:Too much to ask? (1)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613743)

And, as a scientifically-inclined reader, I like my science news to have at least references to some of the original media involved in the discovery they're reporting on. Without that, there's no point in me looking at their news story, because I have nothing I can use to gauge how much spin and/or ignorance was present when the news story was created.

Moon with a wall (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611775)

That moon with the big wall on it (can't remember which planet it orbits)- could it have a similar explanation? That is, an already-formed moon runs through a very thin ring for a couple of centuries, accumulating the ring material in one big long pile that ends up looking like a wall?

Re:Moon with a wall (4, Informative)

Tejin (818001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612023)

The moon is Iapetus. It has a walnut shape and a massive equatoral wall. It's a possible explanation, though Iapetus orbits outside the ring system, and off-plane.

Then again there could be a 'black ring' further out which explains the two-tone colouring of the moon and the equatoral wall. The only problem is that we haven't detected and rings out there.

Re:Moon with a wall (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612865)

Mod parent up informative. Also, I'd suggest checking out Richard Hoagland's hilarious batshit insane conspiracy theories [enterprisemission.com] about it ... there's some very interesting facts in there too if you filter out the crazy conclusions. It's a weird moon.

Re:Moon with a wall (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612913)

In short, no, we don't think that this mechanism explains Iapetus. Best guess there is that you have some tectonic effect due to its thermal history. There are some recent papers out there on the topic, although I'm very familiar with the details.

Re:Moon with a wall (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613627)

The moon is Iapetus. It has a walnut shape and a massive equatoral wall. It's a possible explanation, though Iapetus orbits outside the ring system, and off-plane.

But it's possible that in the past it may have been part of wider ring, such as a moon smashing up near its orbit. Over time the ring would dissappear, as some speculate Saturn's current rings would if not replenished. But the off-plane issue still need to be accounted for. Maybe it used to be on plane, but too was smacked by something, perhaps a peice of what caused the possible outer ring to begin with. There may have been a period of Billard Balls around Saturn as one hay-wire body caused yet more hay-wire bodies by pushing orbits into other orbits, overlapping them.
       

Wow... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611807)

Fourteen posts and no "That's no moon..." jokes yet?

Chris Mattern

Re:Wow... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611877)

Kinda hard to work the joke in when the article has already stolen your thunder :'(.

Re:Wow... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612221)

You read the article? Please turn in your /. UID at the door.

Re:Wow... (1)

ideonode (163753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613365)

60 posts into a story about moons and rings, and no-one's mentioned Urectum.

Re:Wow... (1)

pklinken (773410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614089)

They would pay the price for their lack of vision:
http://xkcd.com/307/ [xkcd.com]

News? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611833)

Aren't the rings bashed up/unformed moons anyhow?

Re:News? (1)

Flagbrew (471794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611927)

I'm pretty sure that the rings are made up of lost airline luggage.

Re:News? (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612831)

Probably. The problem is that the rings can't accrete into moons because of tidal forces. (They do form temporary aggregates, but those tear apart again in roughly one orbital period.) So the presence of moons in this region is a bit of a mystery. One possibility was that they were large shards of whatever body broke up and formed the rings. What we found in our research is that there are indeed seed-cores in the middles of the moons, but that the moons then accreted a lot more material into a mantle, lowering their densities to almost absurdly small values and reshaping them. The moons you have now are a hybrid of progenitor material and ring particles.

Wow (1)

JKSN17 (956518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611955)

That's no moon...wait...it was a minute ago...your telling me that it made out of...ahh I give up!!!

Sedimentary moons . . . (2, Insightful)

SpeedyGonz (771424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611961)

. . . now that's a cool concept. Geeky, but cool.

sigh :( (1)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611969)

saturn's moons are not the only thing that are bulging in the middle

More photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612011)

The linked article has 3D renderings of models. Actual photos of the moons [nasa.gov] are here. The real photos look distinctly weird.

Clearly, we'll have to revise our "That's no moon!" filters.

Obvious? (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612013)

I thought it was obvious that the numerous moons of Saturn came about as a result of collections within the rings. That is why you see gaps in and around the orbits of the moons.

According to the article (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612021)

According to the article, the scientists involved are saying the moon was formed in two phases and that the second phase had the moon pull in ring material and add it on top of the first phase. While it's general scientific consensus that the rings of saturn were probably caused by a moon breaking up, the use of 'probably' is important. We're still looking for that kernel of truth that will prove decisively one theory over another. This isn't a case of the whole evolution vs creationism debacle - there's more than one view on the creation of the rings of Saturn. It should tell you something that NASA doesn't mention the method of ring creation on their 'rings of saturn' page: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Saturn&Display=Rings [nasa.gov]

Re:According to the article (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613199)

Speaking as a ring scientist, I don't actually know of any other real contending theories for the origin of the rings. This isn't to say that we have the story all figured out, but as far as I've ever heard, people seem pretty comfortable with the break-up model. (For one thing, it's stochastic and therefore would reasonably explain why only Saturn has a really massive ring system.)

In Other News.... (1)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612029)

The Bush government has taken a strong anti-'Ring Material' stance. Bush was quoted as saying "Everyone knows all moons are made of cheese."

The Homeland Security Department released a memo this morning citing the Moons of Saturn for "...devious and unnatural behaviour..." and warned that their actions could be taken as "...preliminary build-up for a terrorist strike against the hard working dairy providers of America."

Osama Bin Ladin also released a tape stating that the Koran clearing shows that "...all moons are made of goat cheese..." and warned against the "...American cheese heresy that threatens good Muslims everywhere." A leak from the Mexican government showed they have plans to illegally bring jalopenos into the Saturn Moon/Cheese mix.

The White House is expected to release a statement later today detailing a potential preemptive Wine and Cracker strike.

Obviously they look like flying saucers... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612211)

... because they ARE.

Ring material? (1)

karmaflux (148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612227)

Oh man, who would have thought! A source of scrith in our own solar system!

Guys, I wasn't so sure about getting into a space race with China, but now I know we need to get there first. Anyone know how close we are to an actual cziltang brone?

Wouldn't this make better sense? (1)

tyrnight (633534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612265)

That the Ring material was made of a Shattered Moon?

So they can only be destroyed... (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612315)

by being thrown in the mountain of DOOM!! OMG!!

Like humans then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612453)

Let's see - the moons in the rings (or more precisely in the divisions between rings generally) are called "Shepherd Moons" since they herd the ring particles. So, now we find that over time they add mass to their equators. Like human shepherds eating too much - these folks can also add mass at the equator - especially if they eat some of their flock like these shepherd moons are doing.

Shepherd Moons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612933)

Its a nice tune, but I prefer Paint the Sky with Stars

Why not a "fluff ball" (1)

endoplasmicMessenger (883247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612569)

Someone explain to me how those ring particles got compressed into such a solid-looking moon. If these particles are just gradually coalescing due to gravity, that would result in a "fluff ball" of particles, not a solidly packed mass. By what force are these particles packed together into a solid mass?

Re:Why not a "fluff ball" (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612731)

"By what force are these particles packed together into a solid mass?"

Ummm...gravity? At least, I think it works out in the rest of the universe the same way it works here (see Sedimentary Rocks).

Re:Why not a "fluff ball" (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612965)

Gravitational forces are way too weak. On the surfaces of these guys, the escape speed is (literally) zero thanks to tidal and centrifugal forces.

They aren't compressed at all. That's why the densities are so incredibly low.

Re:Why not a "fluff ball" (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612857)

They're not packed very tightly, in as much as the densities are around half that of liquid water.

They're not compressed. They are probably sintered together thanks to repeated exposures to sunlight and then dipping into the planet's shadow, although the details of that we did not work out.

RingWorld (1)

griffo (220478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612603)

Ok How many of you immedeately thought of RingWorld by Larry Niven?

Re:RingWorld (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612775)

A shitload of us, and you're late - the Niven post is above. Get moving - we haven't come up with nearly enough puppeteer jokes yet.

Sailor Moon? (1)

pdscomp (637112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612795)

Am I the only one who saw the article and read "Sailor Moon .... " ? I was thinking wow, I wonder why this is on the front page of /. And then when I re-read the title, I was disappointed :-(

In other news.... (2, Funny)

paintballer1087 (910920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612879)

Astronomers have determined that the shape of the satellite determines whether it is classified as a moon or not. In an astounding landslide at the latest meeting, it was declared that saucer shaped satellites are to be labeled actual moons, while the spherical satellites are now called pseudo-moons. This in a new spree of reclassifications by astronomers has confused many people.

Luna (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612983)

The moons, which lie within the giant planet's rings, may have come by their strange shape by gradually accumulating ring particles in a ridge around their equators.
The dominating theory as to how the moon of Earth formed was a method much like this. The Earth actually had rings from a giant impact at one time and they all condensed into one big mass that we know and love as Luna.

Re:Luna (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613037)

No, the Moon formed in a notably different way: no dense seed was required to form it. In the rings, tidal forces keep things from building into moons. Our Moon almost certainly formed outside of Earth's Roche limit where it was able to coalesce without significant hindrance.

Re:Luna (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613071)

Note the word theory used.

Re:Luna (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613149)

Yes? How is that relevant to my reply?

Re:Luna (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614529)

I presented a theory as a theory and you presented a theory as a fact.

Re:Luna (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614821)

I did no such thing, please re-read my message more carefully. I was simply pointing out the differences in the theories; there are major reasons why this new work is different from the models of lunar formation which is what necessitated this research in the first place.

Re:Luna (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615551)

Ah, I see the source of the confusion. My first sentence was not meant to suggest a definitive knowledge, I figured the fact that it was a theory was to be understood and wasn't the point in any case.

Cheap for the contractors who built them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613081)

Using cheap, local building materials is the way to go.

Iapetus?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613585)

Dosn't Iapetus also have a well defined (albeit less pronounced) equatorial ridge as well? I wonder if that is formed the same way?

Re:Iapetus?? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613669)

See above, but basically, no. Iapetus's ridge is a lot small, relatively speaking, and probably tectonic in nature. These bulges seriously alter the shapes of the ring-moons and are do to emplacement of material as it hits the moon.
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