New research casts new light on Saturn’s moonlets — and could help solve some of the mysteries surrounding planet formation. (Credit: NASA)

Unlocking the Mystery Behind Saturn’s Moonlets

Feb. 14, 2013 — Research by Loughborough University physicists casts new light on Saturn’s moonlets — and could help solve some of the mysteries surrounding planet formation.

Saturn’s F ring has long been of interest to scientists as its features rapid 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.

When CASSINI began imaging the Saturn system back in 2006 the discovery of a proliferation of moonlets — small natural satellites — in Saturn’s F ring was an unexpected find. Powerful tidal forces were thought to minimize the clumping of particles necessary to create these moonlets and scientists were at a loss to explain the high population in Saturn’s rings.

As the processes at work in Saturn’s rings are comparable to those of a protoplanetary disk, understanding them could be key to unlocking the secrets of our own solar system. Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from Loughborough’s Department of Physics have revealed a new computer model which could help solve this mystery.

Read more: Unlocking the mystery behind Saturn's moonlets — Science Daily.

Home           Top of page