Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Suppose Earth had Saturn's rings

A really nice video.

Thanks to Arwen Rosenbaum for the link!
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site
and WakeWatchWonder.com


2 Comments:

At January 20, 2010 11:28 PM , OpenID 6p00d834523c1e69e2 said...

Could you have a ring system like that in the inner solar system? It only seems to be the outer worlds that have prominent ring systems. The pictures are spectacular though.

 
At January 20, 2010 11:36 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Wellll, it's only gas giants in our solar system that have ring systems, and they all happen to be in the outer solar system. But at the end of the video, the guy says he took Earth's Roche limit into account. However, I'm not sure that we could have a ring system AND our (relatively) giant moon.

Still, there's some thought that we did temporarily have a ring about 30-odd million years ago. As I wrote in End of an Era:

"The Alvarez Group at Berkeley published their asteroid-impact extinction theory in Sciencein 1980. About the same time, an interesting hypothesis was making the rounds concerning the Eocene-Oligocene extinctions, the ones that would come 30 million years after the demise of the dinosaurs. According to it, those later extinctions resulted from a general cooling caused by the breakup of an ancient second moon, leaving Earth with a temporary equatorial ring of orbiting debris that blocked enough sunlight to lower temperatures for a million years or so. The Alvarez theory, sexy because it dealt with dinosaurs and embraced by many pop-science communicators after Sagan had linked it to nuclear winter, eclipsed the ringed-Earth discussions."

==

My source for that: "Ringed World," by Paul Deans, Rotunda [members magazine of the Royal Ontario Museum], Spring 1982 (Vol. 15, No. 1), pp. 40-47.

 

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