An animation shows why Saturn’s rings behave like miniature solar systems

A virtual animation reveals that Saturn’s rings rotate at different rates, as if it were an ice solar system.

It could be that the painting by the Spanish romantic master Goya Saturno devouring his son (1819–1823) was a dark omen to reveal the real nature of the planet. Although the painter was alluding to a Greek myth, a recent study reveals that the movement of Saturn’s rings will bring about their own destruction.

How do Saturn’s rings move?

In total they are 7 the rings of Saturn, which surround the gas giant of our solar system. This condition distinguishes it from the other planets that revolve around the sun, since no other planets have pieces of ice rotating at speeds 70 times higher than sound.

Recently, it came to the attention of the scientific community that each ring moves at your own pace. According to James O’Donoghue, planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency JAXA, “In a way, the ring system is like a mini solar system.” The expert added the following for Science Alert:

“Objects close to Saturn orbit faster, otherwise they would fall, while objects farther away can afford to go slower. This is the same for the planets ”.

For fun, the planetary scientist designs animations about physics and the Solar System, as shown in the video above. In this way, it aims to extend knowledge on the subject in a way more visual and didactic. In this case, it is clearly appreciated how each ring of Saturn rotates on its own beat around the gas giant.

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Does Saturn eat your kids?

Image: Getty Images

O’Donoghue’s animation is titled “synchronous orbit“, And clearly shows the length of Saturn’s rings. In a deeper investigation into this phenomenon, the expert and his team realized that they are slowly disappearing.

The current prediction is that the rings should not last longer than 300 million years in its “full” form. This reveals that they are not exactly stable, according to the author, but a kind of “temporary debris field from some ancient moon or comet that got too close and broke apart, rather than a permanent feature. ” Could it be, then, that indeed Saturn devours his children.

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