Although rings around planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are relatively short-lived, new evidence implies that the recycling of orbiting debris can lengthen the lifetime of such rings, according to University of Colorado researchers.
Strong evidence now implies small moons near the giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter are essentially piles of rubble, said Larry Esposito, a professor at CU-Boulders Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. These re-constituted small bodies are the source of material for planetary rings.
Previous calculations by Esposito and LASP Research Associate Joshua Colwell showed the short lifetimes for such moons imply that the solar system is nearly at the end of the age of rings. "These philosophically unappealing results may not truly describe our solar system and the rings that may surround giant extra-solar planets," said Esposito. "Our new calculations of models explain how inclusion of recycling can lengthen the lifetime of rings and moons."
Larry Esposito | EurekAlert!
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