May 21, 2024

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Why will Saturn’s rings disappear in 2025?

Why will Saturn’s rings disappear in 2025?

Saturn’s majestic rings About to disappear temporarily From our perspective, an astronomical event will occur in just two years. Specifically, andn March 2025The gas giant’s massive ice rings will disappear briefly before becoming visible again.

This cosmic invisibility, more than just a magic trick, is the result of an optical illusion. This will happen when Earth positions itself at the precise point where the edges of Saturn’s thin rings face directly toward us, giving the impression that they have completely disappeared.

He didn’t always have rings

A strange phenomenon that occurs every 13-16 years

Saturn is the sixth planet in our solar system and the second largest planet. It has distinctive rings made up of fragments of ice and rock, which are believed to be the remains of larger cosmic bodies that broke apart due to Saturn’s intense gravity. These rings extend to a distance of up to 280 thousand kilometers from the surface of the planet. But they are incredibly thin, with a vertical height of less than a kilometer in some areas.

This strange disappearance occurs approximately every 13 to 16 years. This happens when the plane of the gas giant is lined up with the Earth so that the thin part of the rings faces directly towards us. This event coincides with the Saturnian equinox, when the sun shines directly on the planet’s equator.

Saturn's rings
JPL/NASA

While Earth experiences this twice a year, in March and September, Saturn’s equinoxes are less frequent, as its orbit around the Sun takes about 29.4 Earth years.

Spring equinox

What is the vernal equinox?

The last time this phenomenon appeared was in September 2009, and it is expected to happen again in October 2038. Among these events, in 2032, Saturn will be perfectly positioned so that its rings will be visible in all their splendor.

One day they will disappear

Each of Saturn’s seven rings is relatively close to the other, but they all orbit the planet at different speeds. When observed from the upper clouds of Saturn, the rings appear mostly white in color.

Scientists recently discovered that the planet’s most distinctive feature may be in danger of disappearing completely within the next 300 million years, or even sooner, as NASA noted in 2018.

Planets of the solar system

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Saturn’s rings are absorbed by the planet due to gravity, in the form of a dust shower of ice particles affected by Saturn’s magnetic field. Which confirms the findings of the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes decades ago.

Scientists continue to investigate how quickly the rings erode, according to the “space” website. Updated April 2023 From the University of Reading, a public research university in the United Kingdom. But, until that actually happens, At least we can get an idea of ​​his (temporary) disappearance in a few months.