What are the rings made up of ?


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What are the rings made up of ?

  • What are the rings made up of ?

  • What keeps the rings stable and in orbit ?

  • Saturn has 62 moons, more than any other planet (Titan and Enceladus most interesting !)

  • All Jovian planets are now known to have rings

  • Saturn’s rings are most shiny: made of icy rocks, in independent Keplerian orbits, above the equator



Dirty, icy, snowballs from about 1/1000 of an inch (dust particles) to 10 yards; most about a foot

  • Dirty, icy, snowballs from about 1/1000 of an inch (dust particles) to 10 yards; most about a foot

  • Origin: (i) breakup of satellite(s), (ii) incomplete formation (a la asteroid belt !)

  • Orbits are stable and particles do not collide

  • Rings are stable due to gravitational interaction with small Shepherding Moons that lie among the ring structures



Gravitational stability limit, out to about 2.5 times the radius of the planet

  • Gravitational stability limit, out to about 2.5 times the radius of the planet

  • Any object without intrinsic gravity (such as a pile of gravel) will break up inside the Roche limit due to tidal effects; a moon with sufficient mass and under its own gravity need not break up

  • All rings, and small shepherding moons, lie within the Roche limit; larger moons are outside









http://www.ibtimes.com/november-astronomy-findings-unprecedented-image-asteroid-ripped-apart-dead-star-2179852

  • http://www.ibtimes.com/november-astronomy-findings-unprecedented-image-asteroid-ripped-apart-dead-star-2179852



Titan is one of several large moons beyond the Roche limit

  • Titan is one of several large moons beyond the Roche limit

  • Titan is most interesting, about 1.5 times the size of Earth’s moon and a density of 1.9 g/cc

  • Second largest moon in the solar system













Mostly nitrogen (80%), argon, methane (CH4)

  • Mostly nitrogen (80%), argon, methane (CH4)

  • Pressure: 1.6 x Earth’s atmosphere

  • Surface Temperature: -300 F (95 K)

  • CH4 and C2H6 (ethane: ethyl alcohol) oceans,

  • (half-mile deep) clouds, rain, ice, snow

  • Orangish color due to smog

  • Oxygen locked in ice



Many organic, hydrocarbon compounds HCN, C3H8, etc.

  • Many organic, hydrocarbon compounds HCN, C3H8, etc.

  • Present conditions similar to primordial conditions on Earth in the first billion years

  • Slow evolution because of cold

  • NASA probe Cassini is now studying Titan

  • Terraforming Titan!!  Heat up to release Oxygen, which would covert methane to CO2 (like Mars): CH4 + O2  CO2 + 2H; plant life to follow











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