Saturn's rings are jiggling, but scientists think they know why

Saturn's rings have been found to be slightly jiggling, but researchers believe they have figured out the 'core' reason why.

1 minute & 9 seconds read time

Astronomers are constantly learning new and wonderful things about the planets in our solar system, and Saturn is in today's spotlight.

Researchers used data acquired by NASA and the ESA's Cassini mission that orbited Saturn between 2004 and 2017. With the data, researchers set out to study the core of the planet and found that it may not have been as solid as astronomers previously estimated. The team of astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) found that the core is better described as a "diffuse soup of ice, rock, and metallic fluids".

Jim Fuller, assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics at Caltech and co-author on the study, said, "We used Saturn's rings like a giant seismograph to measure oscillations inside the planet. This is the first time we've been able to seismically probe the structure of a gas giant planet, and the results were pretty surprising."

Additionally, the astronomers found that the sludgy core slightly oscillates, which causes the entire planet to jiggle or quake. This planetary quaking causes gravitational waves that cause particles in Saturn's rings to wiggle.

"Saturn is always quaking, but it's subtle. The planet's surface moves about a meter every one to two hours like a slowly rippling lake. Like a seismograph, the rings pick up the gravity disturbances, and the ring particles start to wiggle around," says Mankovich.

For more information on this story, check out this link here.

Saturn's rings are jiggling, but scientists think they know why 01
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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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