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Saturn's Outer Ring Is the Wreckage of Two Moons Crashing

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by capslocked, Sep 6, 2015.

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    Saturn's F-ring is an ever evolving, distant, strange, and narrow band of material, especially when compared to the planet's innermost rings. Now there may be an explanation for why it's so unusual: It's what's left after two moons crashed. The likely culprits are Prometheus and Pandora, two shepherd satellites located within the ring.

    Proposed in a paper in Please or Register to view links by Keiji Ohtsuki and Ryuki Hyodo of Kobe University in Japan, the model creates a different picture from the inner rings, which were likely formed by moons that wandered within the "Roche Limit," an area where the gravitational pull of Saturn tore them apart. The same process may have formed one of Uranus' ring systems.

    The F-ring sits about 2,110 miles outside the main ring system and just outside the Roche Limit. It's just 62 miles across, very small by planetary ring standards. It's in a class of its own, neither as wide as the interior rings nor as diffuse as Saturn's outermost E-ring system, a haze even outside the F-ring system which was formed by geyser activity on the moon Enceladus.

    This is just one more entry on the long list of collisions that formed the solar system as we know it today. This includes the Earth-Moon system, likely formed in an ancient collision between Earth and an ancient (and now obliterated) planet. Pluto's moon system is also likely the result of a collision that ejected water ices out into space before the gravitationally reformed. Saturn's F-ring collision was on a much smaller scale but it illustrates a true about our solar system: It's violence from top to bottom
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