Saturn Is Spawning Another Moon

Saturn Is Spawning Another Moon

Our solar system is expecting another body very soon, as mass from Saturn's rings clump together into a new moon.

With all our research into the distant reaches of space, it's easy to forget that there's still interesting astronomical activity going on right on our doorstep. Saturn, a planet that could already have its own episode on Cosmic Hoarders with 62 moons, is working on number 63 at this very moment. Recent findings from NASA detected a bulge in Saturn's outermost ring, which seems to be the early stages of moon creation.

Saturn's rings are composed of a whole lot of rock and ice, so it's got quite a bit of mass. The new moon (which hasn't been directly seen yet) is the result of this matter slowly accreting, gaining mass and increasing its gravitational pull to gain more mass. At this point it's large enough for us to detect, but still relatively tiny, measuring only half a mile in diameter. It's still growing, though, and it has plenty of time to collect more mass before it eventually drifts out of the rings.

The moon hasn't been formally classified, so the very serious scientists at NASA have given it a very serious nickname: Peggy. Once little Peggy finishes growing up and leaves the nest, it'll get a more official (and probably less adorable) name.

Scientists speculate that Peggy may be the last moon Saturn ever forms, keeping the total number just short of a nice even 64. There's only so much matter in the rings, and while they aren't in any danger of disappearing, it's unlikely that any more moons will be able to form from what's left after Peggy leaves.

Source: TIME

Permalink

This reads somewhat like a gossip magazine discussing a celebrity baby. And that's okay with me.

"Peggy: Boy or Girl?" and "Is Jupiter the father AGAIN?" spring to mind.

ADDENDUM: It's still cool to think something as dynamic as a moon forming is happening in my lifetime. Space. Is cool!

Interesting. They should take the opportunity to make a documentary on how moons are formed.

We must designate this moon as an ENEMY PLANET. The Ring Peoples of Saturnalia require our swift assistance. The Fate of the F ring DEPENDS ON YOU. Will you stand with the Saturnalians against Moonhicular Genocide?

Good luck, Penny. We're all counting on you.

Seriously, how cool is this to see a moon forming in our lifetimes? I'd love to know when this last happened to any of the planets. I'll have to go look that up.

EDIT - The answer isn't readily available. If I turn up anything, I'll post it here for any fellow astronomy geeks. ;)

I'm curious why they think this is the last moon Saturn will form. Is "Peggy" going to devour the entire mass of the rings, or is there some critical mass of rings necessary to start moon accretion?

That can happen!?

You know, space is neat.

Avaholic03:
I'm curious why they think this is the last moon Saturn will form. Is "Peggy" going to devour the entire mass of the rings, or is there some critical mass of rings necessary to start moon accretion?

I believe 'Peggy' is forming on the last place a ring-formed moon can form, the inner part is too close to Saturn itself and the outer areas either already have moons which would eat any new formation.

You know, between the blood moon last night and the formation of a new moon near Saturn, I and every other Dead Space fan would like to say the following, "AAAAHHHHH!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! EVERYBODY, RUN FOR YOUR PATHETIC, WORHTLESS, FUCKING LIVES!!!" *proceeds to run away screaming while flapping his arms like an idiot*

Rex Dark:
Interesting. They should take the opportunity to make a documentary on how moons are formed.

How is Moony Formed?

I wonder how long it'll take before it stops picking up new material? A few million years?

that is neat. does it work the same way for the larger stuff

So wait, is this something that could actually occur in our lifetimes? I'm not entirely sure what the timescale for this sort of thing is.

How long is supposed to be "very soon"?

Olas:
So wait, is this something that could actually occur in our lifetimes? I'm not entirely sure what the timescale for this sort of thing is.

It currently is occuring and probably occured since quite a time now and will, of course, continue to occure for a "couple" more years than your life is realistically going to be. None of us will see "Peggy" in it's final stages, though it will slowly grow while you and I are watching.

I say aboard the little bastard! How dare it take from the beautiful rings of Saturn, one of the crowning jewels of our solar system.

Porygon-2000:
This reads somewhat like a gossip magazine discussing a celebrity baby. And that's okay with me.

Well, what are planets if not wannabe stars?

thiosk:
We must designate this moon as an ENEMY PLANET. The Ring Peoples of Saturnalia require our swift assistance. The Fate of the F ring DEPENDS ON YOU. Will you stand with the Saturnalians against Moonhicular Genocide?

Do the ring people have any resource we can exploit?

TheSYLOH:
How is Moony Formed?

How is Moony Formed? How palnet get moon rokc?

Olas:
So wait, is this something that could actually occur in our lifetimes? I'm not entirely sure what the timescale for this sort of thing is.

Given the amount of time it takes for any sort of cosmological event to happen, I doubt any of us will live to see this body attain a distinct orbit of its own, let alone finish accreting matter.

Still... Cool!

So this will be the 63rd moon, eh? It should be given a name that can be either masculine or feminine then, as per the rule. (If I really have to tell you which rule, then I am VERY disappointed in you.)

Idsertian:

TheSYLOH:
How is Moony Formed?

How is Moony Formed? How palnet get moon rokc?

They need to do way instain palnet, who krill their moony!

In all seriousness, Its such an exiting opportunity to observe accretion in an analog system reflecting planet formation.

GamemasterAnthony:
So this will be the 63rd moon, eh? It should be given a name that can be either masculine or feminine then, as per the rule. (If I really have to tell you which rule, then I am VERY disappointed in you.)

That... is actually genius. Consider my hat tipped in your general direction, sir.

thiosk:
They need to do way instain palnet, who krill their moony!

In all seriousness, Its such an exiting opportunity to observe accretion in an analog system reflecting planet formation.

Because there moony cant frigth back?!

And yes, it is pretty cool to know that the solar system is still busy making things, billions of years after its formation.

-Dragmire-:
That can happen!?

You know, space is neat.

You've heard about the coffee grinds in space thing, right? Even random little bits of matter will start to swirl around other things in accordance to size and orientation, clumping and achieving its own kind of orbits. It's really neat and...I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.

FalloutJack:

-Dragmire-:
That can happen!?

You know, space is neat.

You've heard about the coffee grinds in space thing, right? Even random little bits of matter will start to swirl around other things in accordance to size and orientation, clumping and achieving its own kind of orbits. It's really neat and...I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.

My knowledge of astronomy is quite limited. While I do find it interesting, it wasn't something I actively looked into. With that in mind, my initial thoughts on Saturn's rings was that the debris was almost unchanging, locked in orbit.

-Dragmire-:

FalloutJack:

-Dragmire-:
That can happen!?

You know, space is neat.

You've heard about the coffee grinds in space thing, right? Even random little bits of matter will start to swirl around other things in accordance to size and orientation, clumping and achieving its own kind of orbits. It's really neat and...I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more often.

My knowledge of astronomy is quite limited. While I do find it interesting, it wasn't something I actively looked into. With that in mind, my initial thoughts on Saturn's rings was that the debris was almost unchanging, locked in orbit.

Perfectly understandable. As it happens, though, there's always some sort of influence to account for. We push satellites into orbit and they need the occasional adjustment and refueling. So, if they're not locked and the moon does change its orbit here and there, this would hold true for other worlds. Saturn attracts debris and sometimes has debris fall in it, and I guess in this case some of the debris that was heavy enough got close enough to each other (They're actually separated a relatively large space apart.) to pull together.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here