Astronomers explain Jupiter’s lack of rings

(ORDO NEWS) — Despite the huge size of Jupiter, the system of its rings is very weak and almost imperceptible. Scientists attribute this to the destructive influence of massive satellites that prevent the accumulation of matter in orbit.

upiter is noticeably more massive than Saturn and could hold an even more impressive ring system. In addition, it is closer to the Earth, and if Jupiter had such rings, they would be visible much better.

What exactly deprives us of this cosmic spectacle, scientists from the University of California at Riverside found out. The modeling performed showed that Jupiter’s large satellites prevent the formation of a stable system of Jupiter’s rings.

In principle, Jupiter has rings , but they are nowhere near as grandiose as those of neighboring Saturn. It was even possible to notice them for the first time only after the Voyager 1 space probe visited the Jupiter system, and only some especially powerful telescopes can see them from the Earth.

Recall that the other day they were taken by the new space telescope James Webb. The mass of Jupiter’s rings is estimated to range from hundreds of millions to tens of trillions of tons, while those of Saturn, despite its smaller size, are an order of magnitude more massive.

Saturn’s rings are composed mostly of particles of water ice, while Jupiter’s faint rings are thought to be formed by dust kicked off the surface of its moons. Satellites also prevent the emergence of a more noticeable system of rings.

More than 80 of them are known from Jupiter, including the four largest discovered by Galileo: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Recent computer simulations by Stephen Kane and Zhexing Li have shown that the gravity of the Galilean satellites disrupts the stability of the orbits in which the material of the rings could accumulate, sending it either to the planet itself or to one of its satellites.

“We found that Jupiter’s Galilean moons, one of the largest in the solar system, are rapidly destroying a massive ring system during their formation,” says Professor Kane. “Massive planets have massive moons, and they deprive it of rings.”

Now scientists are planning to do similar work for Uranus , another giant of the solar system, which also has its own ring system, but it is extremely weak. The own axis of rotation of this planet is strongly deviated from the plane of the equator, it actually moves on its side.

Some hypotheses link this to a powerful collision that Uranus experienced in the past. The impact could also throw into orbit the substance from which its medium-sized rings were formed. Perhaps simulations will better clarify the details of that long-standing cosmic catastrophe.

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