According to scientists, the age of Saturn isabout 4.5 billion years. It was believed that his rings also formed a long time ago, but new research by astronomers suggests that they appeared from 10 to 100 million years ago, in the era of dinosaurs. The new discovery forced scientists to reconsider their views on the theory of the formation of the planet and its rings in particular. They even thought about sending a new research probe to the planet.
The discovery was made during the study datasent by the Cassini spacecraft burnt in the atmospheric layers of Saturn. Information was collected during the final stage of the mission of the device, when it made 22 flights between the planet and the ring. The trajectory of movement allowed her to measure the force of the gravitational field of the planet and freely send this information to Earth.
Thanks to her, scientists have learned the total mass of the rings: 15 quintillion kilograms. The discovery impressed scientists, as this figure is about 7,000 times less than the mass of the Moon and about 0.4 times the mass of a small satellite of Saturn called Mimas. Subsequently, scientists have put forward the opinion that the rings are still very young and formed no more than 100 million years ago.
Lead author of the study Luciano Aieszadheres to the theory that the rings were formed after the collision of the planet with another large object, which collapsed into pieces and was evenly distributed in orbit. In addition, there are other theories of their formation - for example, they could arise from the strong attraction of Saturn, which caused its ancient satellites to fall on its surface. It is also believed that the planet is simply not able to attract dust and small fragments of which planets form, therefore, simply keeps them nearby.
According to researcher Kelly Miller,The exact age of the rings can be found by obtaining more data on the composition of the rings. Unfortunately, at the moment it is extremely difficult to do this - astronomers will have to send a new probe to the planet, whose main task will be to collect samples from the rings.
Recall that the last stage of the mission mission probe "Cassini" was held April 26, 2017. More information about this event can be found in our special material.
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