Origin of Saturn's F Ring and Satellites Found

Published: 13th September 2015 01:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2015 01:07 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

TOKYO: Saturn's F ring and its shepherd satellites are natural outcome of the final stage of formation of the planet's ring-satellite system, a new study has found.

Saturn, which is the second largest planet in our solar system, is known to have multiple rings and satellites.

In 1979, Pioneer 11 discovered the F ring located just outside the main ring system that extends tens of thousands of kilometres.

The F ring is very narrow with a width of only a few hundred kilometres, and has two shepherd satellites called Prometheus and Pandora, which orbit inside and outside the ring, respectively.

Although the Voyager and Cassini spacecraft later made detailed observations of the F ring and its shepherd satellites, their origin has not been clarified.

According to the latest satellite formation theory, Saturn used to have ancient rings containing many more particles than they do today, and satellites formed from spreading and accretion of these particles.

During the final stage of satellite formation, multiple small satellites tend to form near the outer edge of the ring.

On the other hand, observations by Cassini indicate that the small satellites orbiting near the outer edge of the main ring system have a dense core.

In their simulations using in part computer systems at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Hyodo Ryuki, a second-year student in the doctoral programme, and Ohtsuki Keiji, professor at the Graduate School of Science at Kobe University showed that the F ring and its shepherd satellites formed as these small satellites with a dense core collided and partially disintegrated.

In other words, the system of the F ring and its shepherd satellites is a natural outcome of the formation process of Saturn's ring-satellite system.

This new finding is expected to help elucidate the formation of satellite systems both within and outside our solar system.

For example, the above formation mechanism can also be applied to the rings and shepherd satellites of Uranus, which are similar to those of Saturn.

"Through this study, we were able to show that the current rings of Saturn reflect the formation and evolution processes of the planet's satellite system," said Ryuki.

"We will continue to unravel the origin of satellite systems, which is key to understanding the formation process of planetary systems," said Keiji.

The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp