(The Gist of Science Reporter) Saturn’s Rings will Fade into Oblivion in a Few Million Years from Now [APRIL-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Saturn’s Rings will Fade into Oblivion in a Few Million Years from Now [APRIL-2019]

Saturn’s Rings will Fade into Oblivion in a  Few Million Years from Now

  • There is a buzz among astronomers that Saturn's rings might someday shed themselves into oblivion.
  • Thanks to a phenomenon called 'ring rain’, the icy rings of Saturn could disappear in 300 million years, or even sooner.
  • This is (he conclusion reached by a research team led by fames O' Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
  • The findings of the team were published in the journal Icarus on 17 December 2018.
  • In early 2017, O’ Donoghue and his team looked at the measurements of a charged molecule H3+ (a kind of charged hydrogen molecule dial glows in the infrared light), taken by a group of astronomers in the upper reaches of the Saturn’s yellowish atmosphere, using the Keck If telescope in Hawaii in 201L The molecule H3+ (which is made up of three hydrogen atoms, minus an electron) is created in abundance when minuscule charged particles escape the Saturn’s C-ring (discovered in 1850 having a width of 17,500 km), spiral into the planet along the magnetic field lines and collide with the atmospheric atoms, causing what is called “ring rain” . It is a dusty storm of ice panicles.
  • After measuring the amount of H3+ in Saturn's upper atmosphere, O’ Donoghue's team concluded that as much as 2,000 kg of water is falling onto Saturn each second.
  • "What we’re seeing is something of the order of about a ton and a half per second, said O' Donoghue, Assuming a constant rate of ring rain, the team calculated that Saturn’s rings could mostly shed themselves into oblivion within 300 million years.
  • Data from the Cassini spacecraft has revealed that colossal amounts of organic molecules and water ice (of the order of 10,000 kg per second) are falling onto the planet through a different, potentially transient process that could help hasten the rings' demise. Thai could mean the rings might disappear even sooner, in less than 100 million years. O' Donoghue said.

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Courtesy: Science Reporter