Orbital Dynamics Suggests A Recent Formation of Saturn's Moons


Tuesday, April 12 2016 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Matija Cuk
SETI Institute
The age of Saturn's rings and the source of Enceladus's hydrothermal energy have been hotly debated topics for years. Recently the age of Saturn's moons interior to Titan, previously thought to be as old as Saturn, also became actively debated. I will show how computer simulations of the past orbital dynamics of Saturn's moons Tethys, Dione and Rhea can tell us how long they have been around. It appears that the inner moons and rings of Saturn are only about 100 million years, equivalent to the Cretaceous period on Earth. I will also discuss how the present moons likely originated from debris resulting from a major orbital instability in which the previous generation of icy moons was destroyed.


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