Recently, NASA astronomers have spotted a mysterious ding in one of Saturn’s rings using the Cassini spacecraft.
According to a report from NASA: “Saturn is also known as the ‘Jewel of the Solar System’. With sparkling pinks, hues of grey and a hint of brown, its rings look like a painting where nature is the painter”
Researchers have concluded that Saturn’s rings are in fact made up of trillions of particles of dust, rock, and ice which are in orbit around the planet at different speeds (up to thousands of miles per hour.)
Interestingly, researchers have found that the size of these particles can vary in size from as little as a grain of sand to bigger than a building.
Recently, astronomers have found a dent in Saturn’s Fring – the planet’s outermost discrete ring. Astronomers believe the ‘F ring’ is the most active ring in the entire solar system. According to researchers, ‘F ring’ is 30-300 feet wide layer of dust, rock, and ice particles which form a circumference of some 881,000 kilometers, or 550,000 miles.
Scientists are able to observe its features shifting over the course of a couple of hours. The mysterious disturbance, spotted, according to NASA was possibly caused by a small object embedded in the ring.
According to John Weiss, scientists from Washington State:
“There’s good evidence that there’s a lot of these sized bodies in the core of the ring itself, but you can’t normally see them because they’re covered by the dust cloud around them. But they’re in there, and every so often move across the ring space and blow a bunch of those dust particles out. This one was travelling faster than [3 feet (0.9 metres)] per second.”
After the enigmatic object had smashed into the ring’s core, it formed something that astronomers call a ‘Jet.’ Scientists believe these ‘jets’ are created due to the gravitational pull of Saturn’s smaller weird-looking moon Prometheus.
Well, while researchers are still NOT one hundred percent certain, there believe the disruption was caused by objects embedded within the ring that interact with other objects inside it. Due to the influence and gravitational pull of Saturn’s moon Prometheus, mini ‘jets’ are produced which ‘blow’ some particles out of formation.
In a report written by National Geographic, “[Prometheus] acts as a cosmic shepherd, sculpting the F ring as it makes its orbit around Saturn. But the moon’s route isn’t perfectly circular, and its uneven pull can create clumps inside the ring that then shoot out as jets.”
Astronomers consider Saturn’s rings as cosmic sweet spots that reveal clues of cosmic events around it due to the fact that any collision will leave a trail of particles from the rings.
“You get to expecting in planetary science for things to have happened millions of years ago, and you don’t think ever to get to observe things actively happening,” Weiss said. “But that’s the kind of funky thing with Saturn’s rings. You can actually see evidence of things that happened yesterday or the day before.”