But You've Already Got Rings!: Saturn Forming New Moon

April 18, 2014


This is a photo from NASA's Cassini spacecraft of an unusual object orbiting Saturn at the edge of its A ring (not to be confused with its O-ring, which is Uranus). Astronomers are speculating its a new moon forming, which is already about 1/2-mile in diameter. Me? I'm convinced its a spaceship. When it doubt, aliens -- that's my motto. Now grab a tin-foil hat and meet me in my tree-house, we have an invasion to plan for.

The moons that orbit Saturn may be increasing by one -- an icy, pint-sized object that astronomers have named "Peggy."

The object's gravity seems to have roughed up the ring's usually smooth profile.

As a result, a stretch of the A ring that measures 750 miles long and 6 miles wide is now about 20% brighter than it would typically appear.

Peggy, which is believed to have caused this mess, is too small for Cassini to see directly. But NASA scientists hope to get a closer look in late 2016, when Cassini is scheduled to fly near the A ring.

Whoa whoa whoa -- now wait just a minute, Saturn. You need to SLOW YOUR ROLL. Did you know Saturn already has 62 moons? SIXTY-TWO. And it's trying to make another? I suggest all the other planets in the solar system hold an emergency meeting to determine if Saturn is getting too greedy. Sure Jupiter already has 67, but Saturn also has those rings. You shouldn't get to have any moons if you have rings. I mean, here on earth we only got one moon. I feel ripped off. "Mercury and Venus don't have any." F*** those planets. You choose to hang out that close to the sun, that's your bad.

Thanks to Geekologie's astronomer in residence Jamie M, who I still haven't fully forgiven for trying to sneak an April Fool's story past me. I would have looked like a fool! People trust me!

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Space Odyssey: 2014 ?

  • jeffrey jakubowski


  • I know I know, now I feel ashamed. And even worse, I've jeopardized my residence position! I'll make it up to you someday. Perhaps I'll find a dinosaur planet and I can name it after you. BUT that seems unlikely, so you might have to be content with an asteroid.

    Regarding below, when you get a chunk of material that has enough self-gravity to beginning aggregating more and clearing the area around it, it's sort of in a transitionary stage. Most ring material is <1m in diameter, but the ring disturbance being caused by "Peggy" indicates it is ~800m, which sets it apart pretty dramatically. It's also unclear,however, if it's aggregate material forming a larger body or disintegrating. Ring and moon formation is not that well understood at this point, but this find should give us more insight into that process.

  • Looks like a "Dave"

    Saturn has so much rings & bling it's the Kardashian of the solar system.

    edit for alternate joke: Saturn has more rings than a Kardashian.

  • Frédéric Purenne

    At which point are you separating the little motes of dust in the rings to the bigger motes of dust and call it a moon? O_o

  • Should have posted that second part of my comment as a reply, see above.

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