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Why does saturn have rings?

  1. Jan 27, 2007 #1
    I know this isn't really 'earth sciences' but there is no planetary forum that I am aware of. Anyway, why does Saturn have rings, and what are they made of?

    I read somewhere that Enceladus is the major souce of Saturn's largest ring, the 'E-ring'. What does that mean?

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassini-072905.html
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2007 #2
    Sorry no answer but you could try Astrophysics, there is a thread ongoing about Saturn right there. The active moderaters will probably be kind enough to move your thread.
     
  4. Jan 27, 2007 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Saturn has rings likely because one of its smaller icy moons got too close and was torn apart. This is likely not an uncommon occurrence in some planet's histories. The rings are not permanent structures, and will eventually disappear.

    The rings are made of chunks of dirty ice from boulders down to snowflakes.

    Enceladus has volcanos that erupt with water, showering the orbit of Saturn with it. This feeds the rings.

    Here is a Astronomy forum: http://astro.forumup.co.uk/?mforum=astro
     
  5. Jan 27, 2007 #4
    Thanks Dave that makes sense. But how did the moons get torn apart, tidal forces I presume?
     
  6. Jan 28, 2007 #5

    DaveC426913

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    Yes. The rings are within Saturn's Roche limit.
     
  7. Jul 24, 2009 #6
    Saturn has rings because its gravitational pull pulled in both large and small objects. Over time it built up to the rings you see now
     
  8. Jul 24, 2009 #7

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    Note that this thread is two years old...

    ...and that answer is wrong!
     
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