How To 

Why Does Saturn Have Rings Around It?



Have you ever looked at Saturn through a telescope? The moment you see the rings, the actual rings of Saturn, is life changing. Knowing they’re there and seeing them for yourself are two very different things. This sight will undoubtedly raise the question of how: how did those rings form? What makes them stay there? Here’s what we think happened.

1. They haven’t always been a feature of Saturn.
Scientists have been trying to learn more about the rings for a long time. We knew the rings hadn’t been there forever, but we didn’t know how soon after formation Saturn acquired them. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft may have found the answer, though. Through measurements collected in 2017, it has been estimated that the rings formed between 10 and 100 million years ago.



2. Get too close to Saturn, you might get pulled apart.
So what led to their formation? There are a couple theories. One states that a comet may have come in too close to Saturn and was pulled apart by the planet’s gravity. There also could have been some icy moons like Saturn currently has that were pulled in and ripped to pieces as well. More data could give us a more definitive answer.



3. Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings.
Many people are surprised to learn that Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings, but Saturn’s are the largest. These rings could have been caused by the save gravitational pull that may have formed Saturn’s rings, but we won’t know for sure unless we keep researching.
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Have you ever looked at Saturn through a telescope? The moment you see the rings, the actual rings of Saturn, is life changing. Knowing they’re there and seeing them for yourself are two very different things. This sight will undoubtedly raise the question of how: how did those rings form? What makes them stay there? Here’s what we think happened.

1. They haven’t always been a feature of Saturn.
Scientists have been trying to learn more about the rings for a long time. We knew the rings hadn’t been there forever, but we didn’t know how soon after formation Saturn acquired them. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft may have found the answer, though. Through measurements collected in 2017, it has been estimated that the rings formed between 10 and 100 million years ago.



2. Get too close to Saturn, you might get pulled apart.
So what led to their formation? There are a couple theories. One states that a comet may have come in too close to Saturn and was pulled apart by the planet’s gravity. There also could have been some icy moons like Saturn currently has that were pulled in and ripped to pieces as well. More data could give us a more definitive answer.



3. Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings.
Many people are surprised to learn that Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune all have rings, but Saturn’s are the largest. These rings could have been caused by the save gravitational pull that may have formed Saturn’s rings, but we won’t know for sure unless we keep researching.
I enjoyed some excellent views of Saturn, 5 of its moons, and the ring system using my 10-inch telescope. On 20-Sep-19 and 04-Oct-19, I viewed Saturn at 215x as the planet approached eastern quadrature (07-Oct-19). I could clearly see the large shadow of Saturn on the rings. Saturn's ring system <=100E+6 years old has been reported on over the years. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune have rings too as this 'How To' indicates, however, I have not seen published ring ages for those systems. There are many age measurements in the solar system that do not reconcile with the meteorite radiometric ages of 4.56E+9 years old, showing much younger ages.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
There has been a lot of discussion on the age of the rings, but latest I heard (paper 2019) is that estimates are tending towards greater age viz., early in formation of the Solar System.
My personal opinion, for what it is worth (shrug) is connected with satellite(s) and the Roche limit, but that could have happened within a very long time frame.

Cat ;)
 

rod

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FYI, I have seen some of these reports too on increasing the age of Saturn's rings, nothing on Jupiter, Uranus, or Neptune rings. Increasing the age and ability to avoid *ring decay* over short time scales, sidesteps a potential problem with recent *catastrophism* in the solar system :)
 

rod

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FYI, there are quite a few conflicting reports on Saturn's ring system age and decay rates published over the years,including Cassini mission reviews. Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

Modeling the Meteoritic Bombardment of Saturn's Rings to Estimate Their Age

Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune need a good examination, especially if the rings are decaying like different reports I read. If they are young, consider recent catastrophism in the solar system - that is the big problem in accretion disk modeling for the origin of the planets and Saturn's rings. If the rings are much younger, the rings formed long after the accretion disk period and proto-planet evolutionary periods. Now new models show the proto-earth formed from dust in 5E+6 million years or less because the lifetime of the accretion disk is short, Earth formed much faster than previously thought, new study shows

The *story* for the origin of Earth and the solar system is getting very interesting :)
 

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