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An Alien Super-Saturn Shows Off Its Rings

Best known for its magnificent system of rings, the enormous gas-giant Saturn is perhaps the most beautiful planet in our entire Solar System. Saturn’s mesmerizing, lovely, and enchanting ring system is a collection of a multitude of sparkling icy objects that range in size from smoke-size icy particles to large boulders about the same size as city skyscrapers. Even though the most famous planetary rings in our Solar System belong to Saturn, the other three giant denizens of the outer limits of our Sun’s family–Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune–are also circled by lovely ring systems. Because all four of the giant planets of our Solar System possess rings, the existence of exoplanets with rings is entirely plausible, and in January 2015 astronomers announced that they have detected an enormous ring system–the first of its kind to be discovered beyond our Solar System–and it is much heavier and larger than the impressive ring system of Saturn.

Astronomer Dr. Eric Mamajek of the University of Rochester in New York and his co-author Dr. Matthew Kenworthy of the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands said that the ring system they have been observing–eclipsing the baby star J1407–is of enormous proportions. The ring system belonging to a companion of this distant young star was discovered in 2012 by Dr. Mamajek. The companion, which is likely a giant planet, is designated J1407b.

The new analysis of the data, led by Dr. Kenworthy, suggests that the ring system is made up of more than 30 rings, and each of them is tens of millions of kilometers in diameter. Furthermore, the astronomers detected gaps in the rings which suggest that exomoons may have formed. An exomoon is an alien moon that orbits an alien planet that is in orbit around an alien sun. The results of the new analysis will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Rings And Things

planetary ring is a disk composed of moonlets, dust, and an assortment of other small objects orbiting a planet or similar body. The composition of ring particles varies–they may be silicate or icy motes of dust. Larger rocks and boulders can also tumble around in the rings. Indeed, in 2007 tidal effects from eight moonlets only a few hundred meters across were spied within Saturn’s rings.

Shepherd moons are small moons that orbit near the outer edges of planetary rings or within ring gaps. The shepherd moons got their name because their gravity serves to maintain a sharply defined edge to the ring. Material that wanders too close to the shepherd moon’s orbit will either be tossed back into the body of the ring or unceremoniously hurled out of the system altogether. Sometimes this material may even be accreted onto the shepherd moon itself.

Several of the gas-giant planet Jupiter’s petite innermost moons–Metis and Andrastea–twirl around within Jupiter’s system of rings. It has been proposed that these rings–circling by far the largest planet in our Sun’s family–are made up of material that is being ripped off the two sister-moons by Jupiter’s tidal forces. This might be facilitated by the pelting impacts of ring material onto the moons’ surfaces.

The large greenish-blue ice-giant planet Uranus also sports a duo of shepherd moons circling around within one of its slender, dark rings. The duo of sister-moons, dubbed Cordelia and Ophelia–after two of Shakespeare’s tragic and doomed heroines–act as inner and outer shepherds, respectively.

The outermost giant planet, the beautiful blue ice-giant Neptune, possesses a somewhat unusual system of rings. This is because Neptune’s rings first showed themselves to be made up of incomplete arcs in Earth-based observations. However, back in the 1980s, images provided by the long-traveling Voyager 2 revealed Neptune’s rings to be complete, and also decked with bright clumps. Astronomers think that the gravitational influence of the shepherd moon dubbed Galatea–accompanied by other as-yet undetected shepherd moons–cause the clumps.

The dwarf planet Pluto–once classified as the ninth planet from our Sun before it was demoted in August 2006–is not known to be circled by a system of rings. However, some astronomers think it is possible that the New Horizons probe might detect a ring system when it reaches Pluto later in 2015. Pendants

Furthermore, some astronomers predict that Phobos–a misshapen tiny moon of Mars–might disintegrate and in this way create a ring around the Red Planet. This event may occur in approximately 50 million years as a result of the low orbit of Phobos. Fantasy Football Ring

Within the particularly magnificent system of rings around the planet Saturn small, twirling, circling, sparkling icy objects jitter-bug around together in a mesmerizing dance. Even as these particles of ice influence one another, they are also influenced by their enormous parent planet’s magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is the region of a planet’s magnetic influence. The tiny sparkling bits of ice also tumble around together under the influence of some of the larger moons of Saturn. Jewelry Manufacturer USA

The primary rings of Saturn are both thin and gossamer, but nonetheless create a very wide ethereal expanse that is about 250,000 kilometers across–but less than tens of hundreds of meters deep. Historically, the ages and origins of Saturn’s rings have been cloaked in intriguing mystery. Some astronomers have suggested that the rings are very ancient, and almost as old as our 4.56 billion year old Solar System. However, other astronomers have proposed that Saturn’s rings are really rather young–a mere 100 million years of age.

Saturn’s gossamer rings are made up of 5 main components: the G,F,A,B, and C rings, that are listed from the outermost to the innermost. However, it is really somewhat more complicated than this neat system implies. The main divisions must be further subdivided into thousands of individual ethereal ringlets. The A,B, and C rings are easy for astronomers to observe because they are very wide. Unfortunately, the F and G rings are quite slender and ethereal and, thus, very difficult to observe. A large gap, called the Cassini Division, also exists between the A ring and the B ring.

 

 

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