Astronomers have finally learned why Jupiter's rings are so small

Astronomers have finally learned why Jupiter's rings are so small

For many years scientists have wondered why Jupiter doesn't have fat and bright rings like his neighbor Saturn, but a recent study offers a convincing hypothesis, and astronomers think we should really blame Jupiter's moons.

In the solar system, the planet Saturn stands out very clearly with its rings, but they are not unique to him; three other giants, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, are also covered with dust and ice discs.

In this sample, the rings of the largest planet of the solar system are the most invisible and can only be seen with specialized astronomical equipment. We were not aware of the existence of these ephemeral rings until the Voyager probe passed by more than 40 years ago.

Using new computer simulations, researchers from the University of California in Riverside offered a possible explanation: Jupiter's satellites could have prevented ice from being laid around the planet.

As part of this work, Dr. Stephen Kane's team wanted to understand why Jupiter's ring was so weak and whether the giant once had thicker rings before he somehow lost them. To find out, researchers developed a computer simulation that took into account Jupiter's orbit, as well as the orbits of his four major Galileo satellites.

The planetary rings consist mainly of ice, some of which has been delivered by comets, which has shown that fairly massive orbital satellites can release this orbital ice and attract it with their gravitational attraction.

"," notes Dr. Kane." These simulations also led researchers to the conclusion that it is unlikely that Jupiter ever had large rings in his history.

Now the team would like to do the same simulations to study the Uranus ring system. This work can show why this planet orbits the Sun differently than other solar system objects. The ice giant is slightly leaning on one side, and astronomers believe that this unusual slope is the result of an ancient collision with another object. The Uranus ring system may be the rest of this impact.