Death of a Moon Created Saturn's Rings
Space murder led to iconic shape: astronomer
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 13, 2010 11:44 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2010 1:45 PM CST
This image provided by NASA, taken Oct. 6, 2004, by the Cassini Saturn Probe, shows the planet Saturn and its rings.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – How did Saturn get its distinctive rings? Through the destruction of one of its moons, new research suggests. It was “a case of cosmic murder,” reports the Daily Mail: A Colorado astronomer argues that a layer of hydrogen gas drove many moons toward the planet. In the process, the ice was peeled from one giant moon; that ice began to orbit Saturn and led to rings.

Potentially bolstering her theory is the fact that the rings are 95% ice. They were once much larger, the research, published in Nature, holds—but the ice of outer rings has turned into new moons. However, this theory doesn't explain how other planets like Jupiter and Neptune got their rings. Click for more intriguing news about Saturn's rings.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
jeffster14
Dec 13, 2010 3:22 PM CST
No duh. The dumbest kid on earth has already figured that out. I know I did.
JoeQ
Dec 13, 2010 1:57 PM CST
No mention of the rings around Uranus? (snicker snicker snort!)
ctrippp
Dec 13, 2010 12:42 PM CST
no, probably not... you have to take into account the location our planet is from the sun and the gravitational pull exerted. also i dont think our planet could sustain rings simply for the fact we are a green planet.. we release many gases and other pollutant into the thin atmosphere. this heating of our "outer layers (heat and gases released towards space) " would most likely kill any rings.... well supposed they were made of ice.. if our moon blew up, we wwould have some colossal problems on our planet thats for sure. (tides, seasons, gravitational relationships)