Saturn and its rings are one of the most famous binaries in the solar system. But why don’t we see similar structures around Jupiter?
The findings on this issue were handled by scientists from the University of California, Riverside, who presented their conclusions in the form of a pre-printed version available in the site’s database. arXiv. As it turned out, the perpetrators of all the confusion are the moons of the largest planet orbiting the sun. As it happens, Jupiter owns a whole set of natural satellites.
Stephen Kane and Zixing Li performed a computer simulation of the orbits of Jupiter’s four major moons to analyze the current situation. The model also took into account the orbit of the planet itself and information about how long it takes for the rings to form.
Jupiter’s moons prevent the formation of permanent rings around Jupiter
Saturn’s rings consist primarily of ice, which may have come largely from comets. It appears that a sufficiently large mass of moons orbiting a particular planet leads to a situation in which their gravity can dislodge ice from orbit or cause it to shift and ice to break up on the surface of these bodies. This is probably the case with the so-called Galilean moons of Jupiter, ie Io, Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. It is they who prevent matter from accumulating in the form of rings that revolve around the planet.
As Kane explains, Jupiter apparently didn’t have large rings. At the same time, we should not forget that the four most massive planets of our system have such structures – Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, however, they are not particularly visible, especially without specialized instruments. When the James Webb Space Telescope came into operation, it was able to capture the rings orbiting Jupiter. In turn, the world of science learned about its existence relatively recently, thanks only to the Voyager probe.
“Infuriatingly humble musicaholic. Problem solver. Reader. Hardcore writer. Alcohol evangelist.”