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Mystery behind birth of Saturn’s rings

  • Planetary rings that surround Saturn, Neptune and Uranus were formed four billion years ago when large objects passed very close to planets and got destroyed.
  • The study by researchers at Kobe University and Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan focused on the period called the Late Heavy Bombardment.
  • The Late Heavy Bombardment is believed to have occurred 4 billion years ago in our solar system, when the giant planets underwent orbital migration.
  • It is thought that thousands of Pluto-sized objects from the Kuiper belt existed beyond Neptune.
  • Researchers calculated probability that these large objects passed close to the planets & were destroyed by their tidal force during the Late Heavy Bombardment
  • Results showed that Saturn, Uranus and Neptune experienced close encounters with these large objects multiple times.
  • The team used computer simulations to study disruption of these Kuiper belt objects by tidal force when they passed by the planets
  • They found that in many cases fragments comprising 0.1-10 per cent of the initial mass of the objects were captured into orbits around the planet.

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