(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
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.