Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Saturn's Rings

  1. Sep 2, 2006 #1
    What's preventing Saturn's rings from condensing into a moon?
    Or Jupiter's, Uranus' and Neptune's for that matter?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2006 #2
    Not sure but I think one theory is that saturns rings came form a moon and a few millon years the rings will be absored into saturn.
  4. Sep 3, 2006 #3
    The rings are rather close to Saturn and the differential gravitational fields are big enough to tear medium sized bodies held together only by their own gravity apart. this is sometimed called the Roche limit there are some very small bodies in the rings called shepherd moons that are presumably continually accreting and losing material
  5. Sep 3, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Other planets have rings too. Uranus has some that were discovered in a flyby, and didn't I read somewhere that our very own Earth has a faint ring? It's a stable gravitational solution; why should it condense?
  6. Sep 4, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In fact, rings come from moons broken apart by tidal forces. The process does not work the other way. When a moon gets too close to its parent body, it can be torn apart by the gravitational forces, eventually forming a ring. The individual particles gradually lose orbital energy through collisions and eventually fall down to the planet. Astronomers speculate that rings last about 50,000 years.

    - Warren
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook