The death of the ancient moon formed rings and slammed Saturn

The death of the ancient moon formed rings and slammed Saturn

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have published in Science a study that sheds light on Saturn's unusual properties, and computer simulations have shown that the planet used to have another satellite, and it encountered it about 160 million years ago.

Saturn's rings, which revolve around the equator of the planet, are a clear sign that the planet is tilting to the plane of the solar system's ecliptics. It is estimated that this inclination is about 26.7 degrees. Planetologists have long suspected that this strange position of the planet's axis is linked to Neptune: studies have shown that Saturn is prejudicing like a wolf at almost the same speed as Neptune's orbit.

Nevertheless, researchers have shown in their work that although the two planets were once synchronized, Saturn has since ceased to experience Neptune's attractions, and in order to understand what had happened, scientists used computer simulations.

In their research, planetologists have shown that the most likely hypothesis is that, in addition to the existing 83 satellites, Saturn once had another one. They called it Chrysalis. For billions of years, he was spinning around the planet, drawing the planet in such a way that its slope or "slope" was resonant with Neptune.

According to scientists, about 160 million years ago, Chrysalis' orbit became unstable. It came too close to its planet. As a result of the collision, the satellite was torn apart, and most of its fragments could remain in orbit, eventually breaking into small ice pieces that formed the planet's characteristic rings.

This hypothesis explains both the loss of gravitational interaction with Neptune and later the formation of rings that are much younger than Saturn.