. .

Scientists solve planetary ring riddle
by Staff Writers
Leicester, UK (SPX) Aug 07, 2015
 This is an artist concept of a close-up view of Saturn's ring particles. The planet Saturn is seen in the background (yellow and brown). The particles (blue) are composed mostly of ice, but are not uniform. They clump together to form elongated, curved aggregates, continually forming and dispersing. The space between the clumps is mostly empty. The largest individual particles shown are a few meters (yards) across. Image courtesy NASA. For larger version of this image please go here.

In a breakthrough study, an international team of scientists, including Professor Nikolai Brilliantov from the University of Leicester, has solved an age-old scientific riddle by discovering that planetary rings, such as those orbiting Saturn, have a universally similar particle distribution.

The study, which is published in the academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), also suggests that Saturn's rings are essentially in a steady state that does not depend on their history.

Professor Brilliantov from the University of Leicester's Department of Mathematics explained: "Saturn's rings are relatively well studied and it is known that they consist of ice particles ranging in size from centimetres to about ten metres. With a high probability these particles are remains of some catastrophic event in a far past, and it is not surprising that there exists debris of all sizes, varying from very small to very large ones.

"What is surprising is that the relative abundance of particles of different sizes follows, with a high accuracy, a beautiful mathematical law 'of inverse cubes'. That is, the abundance of 2 metre-size particles is 8 times smaller than the abundance of 1 metre-size particles, the abundance of 3 metre-size particles is 27 times smaller and so on. This holds true up to the size of about 10 metres, then follows an abrupt drop in the abundance of particles. The reason for this drastic drop, as well as the nature of the amazing inverse cubes law, has remained a riddle until now.

"We have finally resolved the riddle of particle size distribution. In particular, our study shows that the observed distribution is not peculiar for Saturn's rings, but has a universal character. In other words, it is generic for all planetary rings which have particles to have a similar nature."

Most of the planets in the Solar System have smaller bodies, or satellites, that orbit a planet. Some of them, such as Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, additionally possess planetary rings - a collection of still smaller bodies of different sizes that also orbit a planet. It is likely that planetary rings also exist beyond the Solar System.

Large asteroids, such as Chariklo and Chiron, only a few hundred kilometres in diameter, are also surrounded by rings.

Professor Brilliantov added: "The rather general mathematical model elaborated in the study with the focus on Saturn's rings may be successfully applied to other systems, where particles merge, colliding with slow velocities and break into small pieces colliding with large impact speeds.

"Such systems exist in nature and industry and will exhibit a beautiful law of inverse cubes and drop in large particle abundance in their particle size distribution."

 Thanks for being here; We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain. With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords. Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year. If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution. SpaceDaily Contributor \$5 Billed Once credit card or paypal SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter \$5 Billed Monthly paypal only

 .

Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

 Tweet

Geneva, Switzerland (SPX) Aug 05, 2015
Astronomers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and members of the NCCR PlanetS have teased out a secret planetary system hiding in the arms of Cassiopea, just 21 light years away from us. The remarkable system, named HD219134, hosts one outer giant planet and three inner super-Earths, one of which transits in front of the star. The transiting super-Earth has a density similar to the Ear ... read more

 From a million miles away, NASA camera shows moon crossing face of Earth NASA Could Return Humans to the Moon by 2021 Smithsonian embraces crowdfunding to preserve lunar spacesuit NASA Sets Sights on Robot-Built Moon Colony New Online Exploring Tools Bring NASA's Journey to Mars to New Generation Six scientists to spend 365 days in HI-SEAS simulated Mars trip Buckingham astrobiologists to look for life on Mars NASA Mars Orbiter Preparing for Mars Lander's 2016 Arrival Spaceflight may increase susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli New rocket could one day launch flight to Europa ISU Educates Future Space Leaders China to deploy space-air-ground sensors for environment protection Chinese earth station is for exclusively scientific and civilian purposes Cooperation in satellite technology put Belgium, China to forefront China set to bolster space, polar security NASA signs \$490 mn contract with Russia for ISS travel NASA Renews \$490Mln Contract With Russian Space Agency Space Kombucha in the search for life and its origin Political Tensions Have No Impact on Space Cooperation- Roscosmos Payload checkout is advancing for Arianespace's September Soyuz flight ILS concludes Proton launch failure investigation India to launch 9 US satellites in 2015, 2016 Payload fit-check for next Ariane 5 mission Scientists solve planetary ring riddle Overselling NASA Exoplanets 20/20: Looking Back to the Future Study: All planetary rings governed by particle distribution principle Satcoms Linking Rural Schools in South Africa and Italy Metal organic frameworks show unexpected flexibility Yarn from slaughterhouse waste Photoaging could reverse negative impact of ultraviolet radiation

 The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.