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Saturn’s Rings

4 November 2016

At http://phys.org/print397135082.html … a team of researchers has presented a new model for the origins of Saturn's rings (see also www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103516305747 … ). The lead author, Ryuki Hydo of Kobe University, says that Saturn's rings are made up of 95 per cent icy particles. However, the rings of Uranus and Neptune are somewhat darker, probably because they are made up of particles that are more rock like. This assumption appears to drive the model's conclusion.

The modelling began on he premise the rings formed during the Late Heavy Bombardment phase of solar system history, some 4 billion years ago. This effectively removes the process to the very remote past thus watering down the idea of a catastrophic connection. Modelling came up with the possibility, even the likelihood that the three giant planets were subject at some time to not so much bombardment but near misses – with smaller Pluto sized bodies. In the process the smaller objects became subject to tidal forcing in the vicinity of the giant planets – and fragments were captured into the orbit of the giant planets. Subsequently they made up the mass of the rings.

What they are saying is that the planetary rings were formed when sufficiently large objects passed very close to the larger planets (sounds a lot like the scenario in Worlds in Collision which involved near misses by the Venus comet). The rings are natural by-products of the formation process. They go on to predict that giant planets around other stars will also have rings.

From a general catastrophist perspective it is interesting to note that Moe Mandelkehr in one of his papers published by SIS (and in his book, The 2300BC Event) speculated that a heavy meteor shower (due to a disintegrating comet in the inner solar system during mid to late 3rd millennium BC) created a ring of debris encircling the Earth. This was of course a temporary affair but could have been existence for decades – or more. It's legacy is the role of the ring in myth and legend (and the idea of an earth encircling serpent). The difference, of course, is in the timing. One event is dated an awful long time ago (so far back even uniformitarians are not bothered unduly) and the the other is a more home brew like version, just a few thousand years ago.

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