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 Cdn_Iceman
Joined: 12/1/2010
Msg: 2
Question about SaturnPage 1 of 1    
I once read that the rings are the icy remnants of a bygone moon one of Saturn's large moons formed too close to the planet to maintain a stable orbit.

The moon or moons started spiraling inward, Saturn's gravity ripped away its icy outer layers and flung them into orbit to create the rings we see today in telescopes .

It was a interesting theory but still its a still a beautiful site to see the rings of saturn.
 SleepyMcGee
Joined: 5/16/2008
Msg: 3
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 1:55:47 PM
Because I said so.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 4
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 4:08:28 PM
My GUESS, based on what little I know, is that rings around planets are the natural result of a combination of

- what the planet is made of (a stronger magnetic field due to an Iron core will likely influence how the debris around a planet comes to settle into a stable orbit);

- what the debris around a planet is made of (Saturn's rings are apparently mostly water ice, which might make them more reflective, and thus easier to see);

- what size moons happen to be around them to "sweep up" the ring material;

- the rate of a planets spin;

- how long the debris has been around;

That sort of thing.
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 5
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 6:45:06 PM
I also read they were mostly comprised of ice

And that rather than just a simple orbit the process keeping them as they are is a bizarrely complex combination of gravitational balances between the 60 or so moons inside and outside of the rings as well as the planets own gravity keeping them in the pattern we see

Purely as a guess though, rather than pure ice I have always wondered if its got impurities of a metallic or even a magnetic type in the water and whether that has something to do with it especially if the rings are around the magnetic equator of saturn as that would seem to make at least some sense in explaining it
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 6
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 7:17:11 PM
Some great information about Saturn here from a spaceprobe that's there!

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm
 shakeitupbaby2012
Joined: 8/12/2010
Msg: 7
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 8:52:49 PM
Water ice- with contaminants of dust and other chemicals.

The giants have rings for the same reason Saturn does- Saturn's size gives it more gravitational pull.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 8
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 9:20:20 PM

The giants have rings for the same reason Saturn does- Saturn's size gives it more gravitational pull.


If size were the only criteria, then Jupiter would have the largest set of rings, followed by Saturn then Uranus and Neptune. Given the dynamic nature of ring systems, the story of how they got there is probably a lot more complicated than we realize.
 shakeitupbaby2012
Joined: 8/12/2010
Msg: 9
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/22/2011 10:33:15 PM
I used size as one criteria.

I've read that Saturn's rings may have been formed at the time the planet was formed. In any case, I've read that the rings of Saturn are much older than the others; that Saturn's rings ( largely water ice) are more complex than Uranus' ( comprised of a lot of dark matter/ organic matter) or Jupiter's ( dust- to keep it brief) ( in that order); that Uranus' ring age is relatively young, etc., etc.

Having many differences, yet still existing near different planets, the common denominator that keeps it intact- gravitational force. So I cited force.

Yes, based on mass, Jupiter would have more pull, but perhaps the other criteria come into play at that point-
Iinterjecting different thoughts and ideas.
 Bchako
Joined: 10/26/2005
Msg: 12
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/24/2011 1:00:02 PM
The rings are made mostly of ice, this is correct.

Several of Saturn's moon are quite energetic, despite being so far from the sun, due to friction from the centrifugal force of their orbit around saturn - several, like Helena and Enceladus are known to have biblical scale geysers spewing ice and carbon into space, and it so happens that that space is within Saturn's huge gravitational pull, so the ice and dust stays.

Earth has a series of nigh-imperceptible rings as well.
 Bchako
Joined: 10/26/2005
Msg: 14
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/24/2011 1:31:46 PM
A contributor definately, who knows what kinds of collisions have happened in the length of time since Saturn coalesced - as far as humanity is concerned, the rings have always been there - so there is no way of knowing for sure.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 15
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/24/2011 2:25:48 PM
There was an article in Sky and Telescope a couple of months ago that dealt with this very question of the predominance of ice in Saturn's ring. From what I recall, the leading theory that seems to agree with the observations is that a classic Saturnian moon (mix of ice mantle and rocky core) was disrupted from its orbit and into Saturn.

Because ice is a lot less dense than rock, as the moon drew closer to Saturn, tidal interactions drew the ice from the moon and into orbit of Saturn while the rocky core continued into Saturn. Of course, over the millions of years, the ice pieces continued to impact and collide with one another creating the classic A, B and C rings we see now.

That is, by no means, the final word. But it's the theory that best seems at this point to explain the observations.
 Blondie_0421
Joined: 10/21/2011
Msg: 16
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/28/2011 3:42:39 PM
According to Astronomy today, "For now the details of the formation of Saturn's ring systems are not known." Two possible origins are suggested 1) A sattelite (moon) strayed inside Saturn's Roche limit and was destroyed (collision) and a ring could have resulted and 2) rings represent material left over from Saturn's formation. Which is correct? We just do not know.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 18
Question about Saturn
Posted: 10/30/2011 8:13:36 PM

I would imagine 'most' moons would be comprised 93% solid rock, not ice... with little to no water... possibly a outer layer at most.


You can imagine them made of green cheese and gummy bears. It's about the data. Either it's there or it isn't.
 Hibernian1960
Joined: 9/13/2008
Msg: 19
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 11/7/2011 9:35:30 PM
Maybe comets get snagged by Saturn gravity passing by? It would account for the ice...

But why not Jupiter more so, then?

Nice thread.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 20
Question about Saturn
Posted: 11/8/2011 6:31:41 AM
According to that famous experiment on the moon, the hammer and feather dropped at the same rate. Ice water should be being pulled into saturn's gravity at the same rate as solid rock yet saturn's rings comprise 93% ice.


Except that the hammer and the feather didn't have forward momentum because they weren't in orbit of the moon. In fact, if one follows the possible (and I emphasize "possible") events, one could see that the ice might have been given a "kick" of momentum as it separated from the rocky core.

Unfortunately, that's entirely a hypothetical scenario on my part as I lack the mathematical knowledge to confirm or disprove that hypothesis and I stand to be corrected by those with a better understanding of the physics.


Maybe comets get snagged by Saturn gravity passing by? It would account for the ice...

But why not Jupiter more so, then?


An entirely good point! Although I suspect the relative masses of the moons MIGHT have something to do with it. Again, lacking the mathematical language to confirm or disprove that hypothesis, however...
 Kohmelo
Joined: 9/20/2011
Msg: 21
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Question about Saturn
Posted: 11/12/2011 4:50:23 PM
I was always told the rings were the shattered bits of a moon that got pulled in too close to the planet.

But then I went and read up about the findings of the probe that actually went there and it is really astounding how much new information was obtained by the probe.

The ring itself is very thin and made of many small pieces. What mystefies me is why it is only a ring. Why do these particles or chunks not spread around the entire planet like an atmosphere would. In the articles I read, I never found an explanation for that.

Perhaps its so simple that it needn't be expained?
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 23
Question about Saturn
Posted: 11/15/2011 7:28:48 PM
Well, Andy, there's as far as I know three leading theories for Saturn's rings.

A) formation with the planet.

B) Comet capture

C) Moon breakup.

You've asked the question. Those are you choices. If you've got alternatives, we're all ears.
Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Question about Saturn