Courtesy of Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer
One of the solar systems most evocative mysteries — the origins of Saturn’s rings may be a case of cosmic murder.
The Victim: An unnamed moon of Saturn that disappeared about 4.5 billion years ago.
The Suspect: A disk of hydrogen gas that once surrounded Saturn when it’s dozen’s of moons were forming, but has now fled the crime scene.
The Cause of Death: A forced plunged into Saturn.
And those spectacular and colourful rings are the only evidence left. How cool is that. Those rings were the result of the doomed moon as it made it’s death spiral and was thus robbed of it’s outer icy layer. My lord that moon just could not catch a break. First murdered then robbed. Tsk tsk, Saturn should be ashamed of itself.
One of the leading theories has been that either some of Saturn’s many moons crashed into each other or an asteroid crashed into some of them, leaving debris that formed the rings. The trouble is that Saturn’s moons are half ice and half rock and the planets seven rings are now as much as 95% ice and probably used to be all ice, say’s Robin Canup, as astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Dear me! Canup also says that the death spirals took about 10,000 years and the key to understanding the rings origins is what happened to them during that time and that 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 tiny inner moons. WOAH RIGHT! I mean I thought that those rings were large now but imagine 10 to 100 times larger. That’s intense. Canup also wanted to state that this theory does not explain the rings on other plants in out solar system such as Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus.
To check out more NASA on Saturn’s Moon click here: http://tinyurl.com/28rn3ln