When we speak about the Solar System, one of the first things that pop into the mind are the iconic rings of Saturn. But unfortunately or not, the ‘gas giant’ could lose those rings in the future, as a new study reveals.
New research that indy100 writes about suggests that Saturn’s rings may not last for much longer in astronomical terms. Scientists analyzed data from NASA’s Cassini mission, which studied the huge planet of our Solar System from 2004 to 2017, and found that the rings are losing a lot of material each and every second.
But there’s no use starting to worry, as the rings will still exist for a few hundred million more years at most. The Cassini mission’s observations during its Grand Finale, when it passed between Saturn and its rings, provided valuable insights into the formation and potential future of these iconic rings.
Richard Durisen, who is professor emeritus of astronomy at Indiana University Bloomington, stated as indy100 quotes:
Our inescapable conclusion is that Saturn’s rings must be relatively young by astronomical standards, just a few hundred million years old,
If you look at Saturn’s satellite system, there are other hints that something dramatic happened there in the last few hundred million years. If Saturn’s rings are not as old as the planet, that means something happened in order to form their incredible structure, and that is very exciting to study.
An amazing fact about Saturn is that it has its place as the second-largest planet in our Solar System, and of course, it’s well-known for its striking and prominent ring system. Those rings are composed of ice particles, rock, and dust, and they encircle the planet and span a distance of over 280,000 kilometers. Saturn’s rings truly represent a unique and awe-inspiring feature, visible even from our planet with a telescope. The origin of Saturn’s rings is still a subject of scientific investigation.
Unless you’re planning to live a few hundred million years, there’s no use starting to worry about Saturn’s rings. They will also be there for plenty of time.