Friday, November 30, 2012

Did Solar System's Planets Have Rings Before Moons?

Artist's view of Neptune with massive rings, giving birth to its satellite system.

Enormous rings may have graced many of the planets in the early solar system, giving rise to the moons that circle them today, scientists say.

A new computer model suggests that the natural satellites of planets in our solar system may have formed from rings of matter, rather than from the clouds of gas currently thought to have created them.

Scientists think moons around planets formed in one of three ways: by a colossal impact, by capture, or alongside their planet. But two French researchers, Aurélien Crida of Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis and Sébastien Charnoz of Université Paris Diderot, propose a fourth model: that the moons formed from rings of solid material much like the dazzling rings of Saturn.

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