Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cassini sees collisions of moonlets on Saturn’s ring

05.06.2008
A team of scientists led from the UK has discovered that the rapid changes in Saturn’s F ring can be attributed to small moonlets causing perturbations. Their results are reported in Nature (5th June 2008).

Saturn’s F ring has long been of interest to scientists as its features change on timescales from hours to years and it is probably the only location in the solar system where large scale collisions happen on a daily basis.

Understanding these processes helps scientists understand the early stages of planet formation.

Professor Carl Murray of Queen Mary, University of London and member of the Cassini Imaging Team led the analysis. He says “Saturn’s F ring is perhaps the most unusual and dynamic ring in the solar system; it has multiple structures with features changing on a variety of timescales from hours to years.”

The team used images gathered by the NASA-ESA Cassini Huygens mission. Images snapped by Cassini in 2006 and 2007 show the formation and evolution of a series of structures (called "jets" in the paper) that are the result of collisions between small nearby moonlets and the core of the F ring.

A ~5km object discovered by Cassini in 2004 (called S/2004 S 6) is the best candidate to explain some of the largest jets seen in the images.

Professor Murray adds “Previous research has noted the features in the F ring and concluded that either another moon of radius about 100km must be present and scattering the particles in the ring, or a much smaller moonlet was colliding with its constituent particles. We can now say that the moonlet is the most likely explanation and even confirm the identity of one culprit.”

The F ring and all the nearby objects are being continually perturbed by encounters with the shepherding moon Prometheus and this allows the gravitational signature of the embedded objects to be detected, even when the objects themselves cannot be seen.

Dr Sébastien Charnoz of Université Paris 7 / CEA Saclay is a co-author on the paper. He says “Large scale collisions happen in Saturn’s F ring almost daily – making it a unique place to study. We can now say that these collisions are responsible for the changing features we observe there.”

The Cassini images also show new features (called "fans") which result from the gravitational effect of small (~1km) satellites orbiting close to the F ring core.

Professor Keith Mason, CEO of the Science and Technology Facilities Council which funds UK involvement in Cassini-Huygens said “This incredibly successful mission has taught us a great deal about the solar system and the processes at work in it. Understanding how small objects move within the dust rings around Saturn gives an insight into the processes that drive planetary formation, where the proto-planet collects material in its orbit through a dust plane and carves out similar grooves and tracks.”

Paper title: "The determination of the structure of Saturn's F ring by nearby moonlets"

Carl D. Murray, Kevin Beurle, Nicholas J. Cooper, Michael W. Evans, Gareth A. Williams & Sébastien Charnoz

Images

Images showing the F ring
Credit NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=3055
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=3052
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2933
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2850
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2648
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2560
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2463
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2335
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2330
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=1700

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.stfc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Innovative LED High Power Light Source for UV
22.06.2017 | Omicron - Laserage Laserprodukte GmbH

nachricht Spin liquids − back to the roots
22.06.2017 | Universität Augsburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>