Shocking GIF shows how Saturn will eventually devour its famous rings

20 December, 2018, 17:45 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Saturn's rings are disappearing Saturn and moons Rhea and Dione taken by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft

The research also suggests Saturn's gravity is pulling the rings into its atmosphere, where they're seen as a dusty rain of ice particles influenced by Saturn's magnetic field.

The ring rain is occurring at such a speed that the could fill an empty Olympic size swimming pool in half an hour. "But add to this the Cassini spacecraft-measured ring material detected falling into Saturn's equator, and the rings have less than 100 million years to live".

Saturn's rings are mainly composed of chunks of water ice ranging from microscopic to several meters.

"Be that as it may, if rings are impermanent, maybe we simply passed up observing goliath ring frameworks of Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, which have just thin curls today!" included Mr O'Donoghue.

The Cassini rocket finished its 20-year mission in 2017 by "death diving" into Saturn's atmosphere, recording information until the last minute. The rings, the thinking at that point went, would likely be gone in a maximum of 300 million years or, in a worst case scenario, just 100 million.

We obviously won't be around when Saturn's rings are gone completely, so we'll wave goodbye to the sky now.

Various theories have been proposed for the origin of Saturn's rings.

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In this artist's impression, charged water molecules spiral around Saturn's magnetic field lines, flowing from the rings to the planet's upper atmosphere.

NASA released a pretty fantastic GIF of Saturn, showing the transition from what it looks like today to what it will look like towards the end of the rings' lifespan. But prior to that, scientists had thought that the rings were perhaps only 100 million years old, possibly created by a collision between a moon and a comet, or between Saturn's moons (it has many), which resulted in debris captured in rings by the planet's gravity.

'Something dramatic must have happened around Saturn to make them this large, long after the planet itself formed'. Saturn's rings are in the middle of their lifespan.

Saturn is famous for its vast, icy rings, but the latest research shows they are rapidly being sucked into the planet by its powerful gravitational field.

If dinosaurs had possessed telescopes and the will to gaze skyward 100 million years ago, they might have seen a very different Saturn - one without its iconic rings. The probe observed ring particles moving quickly into Saturn's equator. "We identified Enceladus and the E-ring as a copious source of water as well, based on another narrow dark band in that old Voyager image".

The researchers are also interested in finding out how the 29.4 years of orbit around the sun would affect the quantity of the ring rain.

The research was funded by NASA and the NASA Postdoctoral Program at NASA Goddard, administered by the Universities Space Research Association.

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