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Thread: Discussion: Prometheus Disrupting Saturn's Rings

  1. #1
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    SUMMARY: Cassini took this amazing photograph of Prometheus, one of Saturn's small shepherd moons as it's tugging material away from the planet's F ring. The F ring resolves into 5 separate strands, and you can see how tiny Prometheus has a stream of material flowing towards it. Prometheus is only 102 km (63 miles) across, and scientists still aren't sure exactly why it creates the different knots and breaks in the F ring.

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  2. #2
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    That's quite a sight that little wisp of stuff being siphoned from the rings. Some stories were making Saturn's rings, with their clumps and gaps, into a comparatively recent product of orbiting objects in decay as the source of the rings. Here is something that is periodically drawing things out of those rings. There may be a bit of yin/yang type work going on with fragmented clumps continuing to smear themselves out in those beautiful circles while Prometheus, and perhaps other small moons sweeping up those smears. Like with the storm that is Jupiter's Red Spot, it is fascinating to see things that have some temporariness to them while the phenomenon itself will long out live anyone who views it today.

    Thanks for the story.

  3. #3
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    Promethieus' gravity can certainly be pulling threads out of the rings. I have trouble seeing the "wisp" that they're talking about, but there are clearly distortions in the rings near Prometheus that must be caused by it's gravity.

    OTOH, Prometheus cannot be "sweeping up" material from the rings. The rings, and the shepherd moons are inside Saturn's Roche radius. That means that the tidal forces caused by Saturn are large enough to lift unattached material off the surface of Prometheus. It's why the rings don't rapidly accrete into one (or a few) bodies.

  4. #4
    Guest_Gerald Lukaniuk Guest
    Sine wave-Gravity? The disruption on Saturns white ring near Promethius appears to be a complete double sinewave rather than a loop that would be caused by gravitational attraction. There is perhaps some new physics at work here.

  5. #5
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    Is that darker streak in the upper part of the images real? It looks to be connected to some distortions in the rings as well.
    It is said material is pulled away by Prometheus, but it could equally be the other way around, the images don't show dynamics. It would be fascinating to see "movies" from these rings. Older (I think it was Voyager) pictures showed "spokes" in Saturn's rings rotating "in sync" with Saturn's magnetic field, maybe these kinks and wisps are related in the same way?


    Cheers.

  6. #6
    Guest Guest
    Quite flat for a moon. Looks more like a flying soccer. You know Fraser and others, once I wrote a never ended story about a journey to Titan. Those guys' ship was named "Prometheus".

  7. #7
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    What was that about sine wave gravity?

    An the spokes were related to a theory about hyperdimensional physics.

    This is fantastic photography...we are clever arn't we? Must check other pictures of Prometheus an see the un-roundness from different angles.

  8. #8
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    Great Picture - I too would like to see an updated movie of the rings but I dont get the science channel tuesday night cosmic jorney on cable anymore so here is my only outer space fix - and I dont think that cassini will be able to make a movie but who knows - not me (no science channel)

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Guest_Gerald Lukaniuk@Dec 4 2004, 08:39 AM
    Sine wave-Gravity? The disruption on Saturns white ring near Promethius appears to be a complete double sinewave rather than a loop that would be caused by gravitational attraction. There is perhaps some new physics at work here.
    Nope. It's the same old physics being applied in new ways.

    The ring has a slightly different orbital period from the moon, so it's already out-of-sync there. In addition, the moon itself follows an irregular orbit since it's so small (it doesn't take much force to kick it this way or that). I would be surprised to see "regular" intervals of kinks, not the irregular ones shown here.

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