{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Planetary rings - nebular material from which Saturn formed...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Planetary rings The rings of Saturn (imaged here by Cassini in 2007) are the most massive and conspicuous in the Solar System. [31] False-color UV image of Saturn's outer B and A rings; dirtier ringlets in the Cassini Division and Enke Gap show up red. Saturn is probably best known for its system of planetary rings , which makes it the most visually remarkable object in the solar system. [31] The rings extend from 6,630 km to 120,700 km above Saturn's equator, average approximately 20 meters in thickness and are composed of 93% water ice with traces of tholin impurities and 7% amorphous carbon . [69] The particles that make up the rings range in size from specks of dust up to 10 m. [70] There are two main theories regarding the origin of the rings. One theory is that the rings are remnants of a destroyed moon of Saturn. The second theory is that the rings are left over from the original
Background image of page 1
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: nebular material from which Saturn formed. Some ice in the central rings comes from the moon Enceladus' ice volcanoes. [71] Beyond the main rings at a distance of 12 million km from the planet is the sparse Phoebe ring, which is tilted at an angle of 27° to the other rings and, like Phoebe , orbits in retrograde fashion. [72] Some of the moons of Saturn, including Pan and Prometheus , act as shepherd moons to confine the rings and prevent them from spreading out. [73] Pan and Atlas cause weak, linear density waves in Saturn's rings that have yielded more reliable calculations of their masses. [74] In the past, astronomers believed the rings formed alongside the planet when it formed billions of years ago. [75] Instead, the age of these planetary rings is probably some hundreds of millions of years....
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

Ask a homework question - tutors are online