If star-hopping aliens have ever been to our solar system, Saturn may be the planet they will remember.
The seven giant rings around the equator make Saturn the most unique planet orbiting the sun. It may not be obvious in images of hula hoop planets, but the ice and rocks that make up these rings hover on Saturn at about 70 times the speed of sound. Moreover, each ring moves at its own pace.
James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at JAXA of the Japan Space Agency, told insiders: “In a sense, the ring system is like a miniature solar system.”
“The celestial bodies close to Saturn move faster, otherwise they will fall, while the celestial bodies far away can withstand slower. The same is true for planets.”
In his spare time, O’Donoghue made animations about physics and the solar system. Some of his others proved that the moon has no “dark side” and that the true center of the solar system is not the sun, and the earth has two types of suns.
When O’Donoghue used his skills to depict Saturn’s rings, he made an animation (pictured below) that shows how each ring moves through its own movements in beautiful circular dance steps.
In the animation, the line labeled “Synchronous Orbit” is synchronized with Saturn’s own rotation, so it shows what parts of the ring you would see over time if you stood at that position on the earth.
Saturn’s ring is formed into countless pieces of frozen water ice, ranging in size from tiny ice dust to bus-sized icebergs. Each satellite has its own orbit: when close to Saturn, they move fast, and when far away from Saturn, they move slowly. The main ring segments are from A to F (marked in the order of discovery) pic.twitter.com/h4QjIz3eY8
-Dr. James O’Donoghue (@physicsJ) June 14, 2020
Saturn is the slowest, with the outermost ring rotating at about 37,000 mph (16.4 kilometers per second), which is slower than Saturn’s own rotation speed. The innermost layer of ice and rock shoots out of space at a speed of approximately 52,000 mph (23.2 kilometers per second).
From a closer look, Saturn’s rings are not as chaotic as their speed might make them look. According to O’Donoghue, ice particles on adjacent tracks move at a speed of only a few centimeters per minute.
He tweeted: “This speed is like taking one step every 30 minutes, or similar to peak-hour traffic.” “So the collision is not very serious.”
Saturn is slowly devouring its ring
In addition to moving fast, Saturn’s ring is long and thin. If they were unfolded (O’Donoghue as shown in the picture below), all planets would be comfortably contained within their length.
But in general, the quality of these rings is only 1/5,000 of the quality of our moon.
O’Donoghue told Insider, “In other words, our moon can be used to make 5,000 Saturn’s ring systems.” “This highlights the extremely weak and fragile Saturn’s rings.”
Saturn’s rings are very delicate: they are only three times the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere
Ring of Saturn→15×10¹⁸kg
They were formed when the dinosaurs became extinct, and their lifespan will only be extended by 100 million years, while Saturn’s lifespan is only 5% around pic.twitter.com/ZB1bI1TBH0
-Dr. James O’Donoghue (@physicsJ) August 15, 2019
This vulnerability is the subject of O’Donoghue’s scientific research. While studying the upper atmosphere of Saturn, he and his colleagues discovered that these rings were slowly disappearing. Thousands of kilograms of ring material fall on the earth every second. He said that at this rate, these rings will last no more than 300 million years in their current “complete” form.
Saturn’s ring is a rainbow, melted by ice under the influence of gravity. This is a natural-color 17-megapixel image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The distance listed is the distance from the center of Saturn; the ring is here ~5 earth wide! Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Sci Inst/CICLOPS pic.twitter.com/boGiweQE12
-Dr. James O’Donoghue (@physicsJ) January 2, 2021
O’Donoghue added: “Saturn’s ring system is not very stable. It looks more like a temporary debris field of some ancient moons or comets. They are too close and broken, rather than permanent features.” “We can. Fortunately, we live in an era when Saturn’s rings are so large in the solar system.”
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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