09/23/2022

Saturn’s Rings Might Be Made From A Missing Moon

4:22 minutes

The planet saturn with rings surrounding it, the rings contain loose rocks/asteroids that are still forming around it.
Credit: Shutterstock

Saturn’s rings are one of the most stunning, iconic features of our solar system. But for a very long time, Saturn was a ring-less planet. Research suggests the rings are only about 100 million years old—younger than many dinosaurs. Because Saturn wasn’t born with its rings, astronomers have been scratching their heads for decades wondering how the planet’s accessories formed. A new study in the journal Science suggests a new idea about the rings’ origins—and a missing moon may hold the answers.

Co-author Dr. Burkhard Militzer, a planetary scientist and professor at UC Berkeley, joins Ira to talk about the surprising origins of Saturn’s rings.

Want to know more? Listen to this previous Science Friday episode about Saturn’s formation.


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Segment Guests

Burkhard Militzer

Burkhard Militzer is a professor of Earth and Planetary Science and of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California.

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Rasha Aridi is a producer for Science Friday. She loves stories about weird critters, science adventures, and the intersection of science and history.

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Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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