Disappearing Act

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Saturn’s famous rings will vanish in 2025, CBS News reported.

Fortunately, this disappearing act is just temporary and it doesn’t mean the majestic ring system will disappear completely.

NASA scientists confirmed last week that the planet will go edge-on, which means it will become invisible to us on Earth.

Saturn rotates on an axis tilted by 26.7 degrees. That means our view of its rings changes over time.

Every 13 to 15 years, Earthlings see Saturn’s rings “reflect very little light, and are very difficult to see, making them essentially invisible,” according to Vahe Peroomian, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Southern California.

The last time this edge-on phenomenon happened was in 2009. The next one is likely to occur on March 23, 2025, and will last for a few months.

First spotted in 1610 by renowned astronomer Galileo Galilei, new research has shown that the planet’s rings are about 100 million years old – fairly new in terms of a cosmic timeline.

Still, they aren’t going to be there much longer.

In 2018, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 missions confirmed that Saturn is losing its rings due to a phenomenon called “ring rain.” Ice particles from the rings are pulled into Saturn by gravity, driven by the planet’s magnetic field.

This process could make Saturn’s rings disappear in 300 million years. Meanwhile, data from the Cassini spacecraft suggested that material falling into Saturn’s equator might accelerate this loss, causing the rings to vanish in just 100 million years.

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