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Space & Astronomy

Did Saturn's rings form relatively recently ?

By T.K. Randall
August 30, 2017 · Comment icon 9 comments

How old are Saturn's rings and how did they form ? Image Credit: NASA
New data from Cassini has suggested that Saturn's rings may only be around 100 million years old.
The gas giant's spectacular rings are one of the most distinctive spectacles in the entire solar system, yet exactly when and how they formed has long remained something of an enigma.

Some scientists believe that the rings formed at the same time as Saturn itself 4.6 billion years ago, but now NASA's Cassini probe has returned data suggesting that they may in fact be much younger.

The key to calculating the age of the rings is to first measure how much they weigh. The more massive they are, scientists argue, the older they are, yet to everyone's surprise, the data suggested that the rings are actually less massive - and thus much younger - than anyone had predicted.
The find also reinforces the idea that the rings were formed when an object, possibly a comet or even a small moon, broke up in to pieces after colliding with the planet.

"Perhaps that's happened more than once," said Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker. "Maybe some of the differences we see in the rings are from different objects that were broken apart."

"But if the rings are less massive they won't have had the mass to survive the micro-meteoroid bombardment that we estimate to have happened since the formation of the planet."

"So, we're heading in the direction of the rings being perhaps 100 million years old or so, which is quite young compared to the age of the Solar System."

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
So the vast majority of dinosaurs, if they had telescopes, couldn't see the rings? That's pretty cool information to now have.
Comment icon #2 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Sounds like Saturn "took one for the gypper", meaning Earth.
Comment icon #3 Posted by EBE Hybrid 7 years ago
Maybe "Planet X" has been, gone and the ramains are now orbiting Saturn. If that's the case though, the weird section of express will have far less content, it'll be nothing but mumified alien fetus's in Peruvian Pyramids and Nazi bases in Antartica and on the Moon (BTW anyone who enjoyed Iron Sky will be pleased to hear that Iron Sky 2 should be released 14th Feb 2018, Yaaaay).
Comment icon #4 Posted by Astra. 7 years ago
Saturn is certainly one of the most beautiful planets in the solar system, especially with it's rings.
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
yes they are this recent. After collision of Mars with a celestial body which stripped off its atmosphere, fragments spit off in space were collected by Saturn. Some other fragments fal down on Earth leading to dinosaurs extinction.
Comment icon #6 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
If my calculations are correct, then the dinosaurs wouldnt need a telescope to see the ring remnant crashing into earth 65 million years ago! 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
You are going to back this up with some evidence aren't you? No, of course you aren't, because it's not possible to produce evidence of an event which is pure fantasy,
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
What kind of person would have so little knowledge that they would back qxcontinuum's pile of nonsense? Well that answered that question.
Comment icon #9 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
what if i saw it happening? Omg another crazy looser ehh?  

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