Rings of the planets

Rings of the planets Solar System at first they only caused admiration for their beauty. But then it became clear that they play an important role in the formation of planets and can help uncover the riddles of the origin of our Universe. Its unusual appearance stands out Saturn. He is surrounded by an amazing and unusually beautiful education - Saturn's rings, consisting of many small ice particles and ice blocks up to several tens of meters, circling around the main body of the planet. For a long time, Saturn's rings were considered a unique formation in the family of planets. However, in 1976, with the help of ground-based observations, several rings were found around the seventh planet of the Solar System of Uranus. And after a while the Voyager 1 space station registered the presence of a weak ring and the planet Jupiter. Its thickness is about 1 km. And it is formed by particles, the diameter of which is in the range from a micrometer to several meters. As for the rings of Saturn, then, based on long-term observations obtained by ground-based observatories, astronomers believed that there were four of them. The rings were designated in capital letters of the Latin alphabet A, B, C and D, starting from the fourth ring, which at one time was considered the most external. Therefore, when it was discovered the fifth, even more distant from Saturn ring, he was given the index E.

Rings of the planets Solar System at first they only caused admiration for their beauty

Especially strongly the rings of planets began to be studied thanks to the research of Saturn from the board of American interplanetary stations "Pioneer-11", "Voyager-1" and "Voyager-2" in 1979-1981. In particular, "Pioneer-11" discovered the furthest ring marked with the letter F, and "Voyager-1" transmitted to the Earth an image of the rings D and E, the existence of which caused certain doubts. Moreover, the analysis of the images obtained from Voyager 1 led the scientists to the conclusion about the possible existence of one more - the seventh ring of Saturn. But truly sensational was another. It turned out that the planet is surrounded not by six or seven wide rings, but several hundred concentric narrow rings. According to experts, their number ranges from 500 to 1000! The photographs of Voyager 2 show that these narrow rings of Saturn, in turn, fall into even finer "rings" or "strands." No less surprising is the fact that not all narrow rings of the planet have the correct form. For example, the width of one of them varies from 25 to 80 km.

How to explain the similar structure of the rings of the planet Saturn? The most interesting is the assumption that the stratification of the rings of the planet into numerous filaments is due to the gravitational effects of Saturn's satellites, including small ones, discovered recently with the help of spacecraft. Attention is also drawn to the relatively small width of the ring F. Most likely, it is also explained by the influence of two previously unknown small satellites of Saturn with diameters of about 200 km. One of them is located at the outer edge of the ring F, the other at the inner edge. As calculations show, these satellites, by their action, "drive" the particles inside the ring. In this regard, they were figuratively called "shepherds" - they seem to guard the structure of the ring. Another amazing feature of the rings of the planet Saturn - "spokes", strange formations, stretching through the rings in the radial directions for a distance of several thousand kilometers. Like the spokes of a wheel, they revolve around the planet and are traced over several revolutions. But if the "spokes" were an integral part of the rings of Saturn, they would have to be quickly destroyed, since the particles of the rings, located at different distances from Saturn, move with different angular velocities. Careful analysis of photographs transmitted by space stations, showed that the time of full turnover of "spokes" exactly corresponds to the period of axial rotation of the Saturn itself. In this connection, it was suggested that the "spokes" are formed by small particles located above the plane of the rings of Saturn and held by electrostatic forces. And their rotation is explained by the fact that they are fond of the magnetic field of Saturn.

And one more mystery: in the ring of Saturn F, thickenings and even interlacing of individual filaments were found. The phenomenon is difficult to explain from the point of view of the laws of ordinary mechanics! Most likely, it is also associated with electromagnetic influences.

The rings of the planets of Jupiter and Uranus indicate that the existence of such structures is natural for giant planets. Apparently, their formation is the result of an incomplete process of formation of the satellites of the planet from particles of the preplanetary cloud at a close distance from it. However, there are other assumptions.