Saturn is the second largest planet in our Solar System. The most outstanding feature of this planet is its rings. Although many other planets like Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus also have rings, none are as prominent as Saturn’s. Saturn’s rings have always evoked a sense of mystery. It was first spotted by Galileo’s telescope in 1610 (who thought that it looked like a teddy’s head with two ears and hence might be 3 planets). For four centuries scientists have been contemplating the reason for Saturn’s rings. At first they thought that the rings are solid and like a pancake around Saturn. Later it was seen through better telescopes that they had gaps in them. Now we know that the rings are made of dust and ice particles. These particles reflect the sunlight brilliantly which gives Saturn its halo effect. Scientists are still contemplating how these rings were formed and many theories have been proposed.
Why does Saturn have Rings?
There are currently three main theories on the formation of rings
They could have been formed near about the time of formation of the planet itself from the leftover debris that was unable to form the moon
One of the moons was destroyed by a comet or asteroid and the debris continued orbiting Saturn
Or it may have been formed by a moon that was too close to Saturn and broke due to its gravity
What are these rings made of ?
Saturn’s rings are composed of billions of particles of rock and ice which range from size as small as sugar to some of them that are the size of a house. 90-95% of this debris is composed of ice.
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