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How did the rings of the planet Saturn form? Researchers finally give the answer

How did Saturn’s rings form? The mystery remained until this day, totally whole… A team of scientists managed to decipher the history of this planet.

© Mark Garlick Spl / Contributor

The mysteries of the creation of Saturn’s rings finally solved by scientists

Saturn’s rings were until now an enigma. But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study published on September 15 in the journal Science seems to havelifted the veil on this secret.

Lots of research

The planet Saturn being gaseous, the formation of rings around it remains quite exceptional. Discovered by Gallile 400 years ago, these rings pose one of the most fundamental questions about the solar system. In an attempt to elucidate their formation, the researchers sought to obtain the date on which they were formed.

In 2004, NASA scientists therefore sent a probe around Saturn. For 13 years until 2017 the Cassini spacecraft gravitated near this planet and sent valuable information to earth. In particular, researchers were able to explore Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Life on Saturn therefore does not seem to be so far removed from that on Earth, with the only difference that methane replaces our water. But then how to explain that this planet has rings?

A mystery revealed

According to the researchers, the rings appear to be “young”, as explained by Jack Wisdom, the study’s lead author and planetary dynamics specialist at MIT. Scientists have established several hypotheses. The first, Saturn’s moon, Titan, gradually moving away from the planet, rings would have formed for the keep in balance.

The second, one of Saturn’s moons would have disintegrated into rings. This potentially extinct moon has been named: Chrysalis. “It is therefore plausible to hypothesize that Chrysalis was also made of ice waterand that’s what we need to create the rings”, explains Jack Wisdom for whom this planet is still full of secrets.