April 25, 2024

Researchers say that Saturn’s ring system is very young

So the researchers investigated how quickly this layer of dust accumulated. It’s a bit like determining the age of a house by running your finger across the roof, Kempf explains. “Or think of the rings like a carpet. Spreading a clean carpet, all you have to do is wait. The dust will settle on the carpet over time. The same goes for the rings.” To determine this dust flow, the team used an instrument called the Cosmic Dust Analyzer on the Cassini spacecraft. “A total of 163 particles can be identified in 13 years as new and from the outside. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s probably enough to make a valid extrapolation. So the researchers said: “Saturn’s current rings cannot be original.”

This statement is obvious – but not indisputable. When it was first reported in 2019 that the rings were tens to hundreds of millions of years old, A research team led by Aurélien Crida noted From the Cote d’Azur Observatory Reported in Nature Astronomy.that other processes may keep loops “clean”. Measurements by the Cassini space probe have also shown that darker material from the ring system is raining down on the planet and flowing outward. This is enough to compensate for the influx of dust particles.

Translucent rings have fascinated the research community for over 400 years. In 1610, the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first observed the rings through a telescope. The rings in his original drawings look somewhat like the handles of a water jug. Dutch astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens correctly described the rings as a ring system 45 years later.

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