Saturn’s iconic rings are disappearing, scientists say


Among the planets in our solar system, there is perhaps no one more visually iconic than Saturn, and obviously his rings. However, scientists fear they may not last long. According to James O’Donoghue, a scientist at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Saturn’s rings are disappearing, albeit slowly, fortunately.

We still don’t know exactly how Saturn’s rings formed, but it is estimated, thanks to analyzes carried out in recent years of images from NASA’s Cassini mission, which are “cosmically young” with an age of between 10 and 100 million years, which narrows down the possible theories.

Although the scientific community has not reached a consensus on the origin of Saturn’s rings, one of the most resonant theories suggests that the rings could have formed when one of Saturn’s moons got too close to the planet and He shattered.

“rain of rings”

In an interview given to AtlanticO’Donoghue explained that the rings are disappearing due to the “rain of rings.” The term refers to incoming micrometeorites and solar radiation, which disturb the small dusty pieces of matter in the rings, electrifying them and aligning them with Saturn’s magnetic field lines.

This causes the particles to drift into Saturn’s upper atmosphere, where gravity pulls them until they vaporize in the planet’s clouds. Astronomers believe that this process will take about 300 million years to completely remove the ring system.

O’Donoghue said “this is what we’re seeing from Saturn’s rings at their peak,” and while “it’s very, very sad that the rings are going to disappear in the future,” he’s very glad “that we’re lucky enough to to see”.

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