Why Saturn Has Rings?

Saturn is the most beautiful planet in our solar system and the reason behind this beauty is the ring that surrounds it. Saturn has fascinated both the amateurs and the professionals for the long time. After the discovery of the Saturn's ring system, some popular questions became "Why Saturn has ring?" and "What are Saturn's ring made of?" Scientists have ideas that why Saturn has ring but no one knows for sure.



Why Saturn Has Ring?

There are two popular theories regarding the rings of Saturn.
One theory was proposed by Edouard Roche in 19th century that millions of years ago, Saturn did not have rings. Instead, it had a big moon "Veritas" named after a Roman Goddess, moving around it. This moon came very close to Saturn while moving faster and faster around it. Due to get pulled by Saturn's gravity, it bursts and broke into pieces that eventually spread around the planet and create the rings we see today.
The second theory is that the rings were never a part of a moon instead these are the debris of the space which is pulled by the gravitational force of Saturn.


What are Saturn's Rings made of?

The composition of Saturn's rings comprises of different materials of different sizes varying from too tiny particles to the particles size of a building. The rings are made up of rocks, dust  and ice particles.
According to a recent theory by Robin Canup, during the moon formation, the gravitational pull of Saturn ripped the outer icey layer of the moon. So, it is believed that 95% of Saturn's rings are composed of ice particles. The rest of the rocky and dust  particles in the ring comes from the meteors that have gone in the path of Saturn's ring.
Saturn's rings appear very bright because of the wavelengths of light reflected by ice and  debris in the ring.


Discovering the Rings

We didn’t always know Saturn had rings. A few hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei was the first person who looked at the sky through one of his first telescope in 1610 and observe the rings of Saturn. But due to optic constraints, he wasn't able to clearly define the rings.
After 45 years later, in 1655, astronomer Christiaan Huygens, who had a more powerful telescope, proposed that Saturn had flat and thin ring.
After that, another astronomer, Giovanni Cassini, noticed that the rings had some gaps in it.
Now we know that there are about 500 to 1000 rings. The rings are about 400,000 km wide (that's the distance between the Moon and the Earth!) and 100 meters thick. The rings are named alphabetically in the order they were discovered. 

The Saturn’s rings are divided into 7 groups:

A Ring: Radial width = 14,600 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 122,170 - 136,775 Km

B Ring: Radial width = 25,500 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 92,000 - 117,580 Km

C Ring: Radial width = 17,500 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 74,658 - 92,000 Km

D Ring: Radial width = 7,500 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 66,000 - 74,510 Km

E Ring: Radial width = 300,000 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 180,000 - 480,000 Km

F Ring: Radial width = 30-500 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 140,224 Km

G Ring: Radial width = 9,000 Km | Distance from Saturn’s center = 166,000 - 174,000 Km

There are also gaps in the rings which is named and divided into Maxwell gap, Colombo Gap, Huygens gap, Bond Gap, Laplace gap and more.


How Long Will The Saturn's Rings lasts?

Saturn’s Rings are no doubt a wonder, but it may not be forever. The particles kept smashing into each other, which made a lot of dust and snow which fell onto Saturn or floated off into space. 
According to some studies, the rings of Saturn are slowly being pulled into Saturn by its strong gravitational pull.
Whatever will happen, in the distant future the rings will disappear.


The End Notes

That's all in this article. No matter which theory you believe, the rings of Saturn will always fascinates all of us. I hope you liked it. Please comment your views on this. Also share in your circle.
 

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