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Saturn's F Ring Is Now Three Times As Wide As During the Voyager Flybys 41

KentuckyFC writes In 1980 and 1981, Voyager 1 and 2 flew past Saturn providing unprecedented images of its magnificent ring system. At that time, its most distant discrete ring, the F ring, was about 200 kilometres wide. But puzzlingly, images sent back by Cassini show that the ring is now 580 kilometres wide and twice as bright as it was thirty years ago. Now astronomers think they have finally solved the mystery of the expanding F ring. The ring is shepherded by a number of small moons, the most famous of which is Prometheus. These moons interact gravitationally with the ring creating structures such as braids and spokes. The new thinking is that the moons' orbits resonate with the F ring, pushing clouds of dust and ice further away from Saturn. This makes the ring wider. But beyond a certain radius the orbit of the dust becomes unstable and it begins to spiral back towards Saturn and collides with the rest of the ring. This causes a chain reaction of collisions that dramatically increases the number of particles in the ring and hence its brightness. This theory also leads to a prediction--the resonant process is currently at a maximum but should reduce sharply in the coming years, if the theory is correct. So by 2018, the F ring should be back to the same configuration the Voyagers saw in 80/81.
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Saturn's F Ring Is Now Three Times As Wide As During the Voyager Flybys

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 01, 2014 @10:22AM (#47799899)

    As I write this, there are 12 comments to this story. They are all total crap.

    Five are about enlarged bodily orifices, namely the anus and the vagina. One of them even features references to prison rape.

    Three are about global warming and human-induced environment changes.

    One is about religion.

    Two of them just drop stupid sci-fi references.

    The remaining one is really weird stupidity about 3rd grade swearing or something idiotic like that.

    All of them have absolutely nothing useful to say, and most of them aren't even tangentially related to the submission and its topic.

    Come on, this is unbelievable. While I've never expected particularly high standards for Slashdot and the discussion here, I think that this is a new low. In the past, a story like this would generate at least some good discussion.

    I'm not an astronomer, so I don't have much to add, but I would at least like to read comments from people who may have some experience within this field. Instead, all I find here is stupidity and discussion about torn anal sphincters.

    At this point, I don't know what to do. I can't stand reddit any longer, because the discussion there is even more inane than it is here. I'm tiring of Hacker News, because the only submissions there that get to the front page involve sexism or some other irrelevant social issue, rather than stuff relating to science, technology, and even business. Lobsters is totalitarian groupthink enforced by their invitation-only signup policy. SoylentNews isn't bad, but there isn't much discussion.

    Where can somebody go to find tolerable discussion about science, math, and technology?

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.