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The origin of Saturn's rings.

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The origin of Saturn's rings.

Souce Saturn's rings captured by James Webb

Technically all the gas giants have rings, in Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, they are very faint, but they can be seen better in infrared light, thanks to the enormous James Webb space telescope the rings of Jupiter look very faint, but those of Uranus and Neptune They look spectacular, of course if we see Saturn it completely overshadows them because in infrared the rings seem to shine with their own light.

Souce Jupiter's rings captured by James Webb

The rings of Saturn are something incredible, they are basically formed by ice pieces of frozen water, with a pinch of carbon compounds, these pieces of ice have sizes from 10 m to as small as grains of sand, the Rings have a diameter of 282,000 km this is 22 times the diameter of the Earth, but they are extremely thin, on average they are 20 m thick, which is about the width of an Avenue.

Souce Neptuno rings captured by James Webb

There are also small moons within the Rings that attract small pieces of ice with their gravity and create those empty spaces. When they pass with their gravity they create enormous waves that can measure a couple of kilometers. We are still not very clear why these rings exist. but there are three hypotheses.

One says that there was a supposed moon that scientists call a chrysalis that was destroyed by the tides of Saturn, when one body orbits another like our moon orbits the earth, tides occur on both the earth and the moon, the two bodies suffer a elongation in the direction of the other body, because they affect each other with their gravities, they stretch in one direction while they flatten in the other and the only thing that prevents them from falling apart is the gravity that attracts the mass of each body towards its center.

If the moon got too close to the earth there would be a point where its gravity would not be enough to keep it in one piece, as the tidal forces stretched it in one direction while crushing it in the other, then it would become spaghetti and then become little by little into pretty rings.

I made these images of what the rings would look like if the earth had rings like Saturn.

Souce Uranus rings captured by James Webb

The hypothesis says that this supposed Moon called a chrysalis came too close to Saturn, crossing the limit where its gravity was overcome by tidal forces and broke apart to form the rings, at this point from which the moons become spaghetti and then in rings it is called the Rush limit and applies to any body, from asteroids, moons and planets to stars and black holes.

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There is another hypothesis that says that the Rings are part of the nebular material that formed the planet Saturn originally, although there is something that contradicts this hypothesis which is how bright Saturn's rings are, the little pieces of ice that form it shine very bright because the ice It reflects the light of the Sun very well and if they were as old as the planet itself, it is believed that they would already be much dirtier with dust and would not be as bright.

The third and most recent hypothesis from just September 2023 says that the Rings are the product of the collision of two moons that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago, but no matter what their origin, the Rings are what give them their personality. to Saturn.


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