Washington, - Saturn's C ring isn't as old as astronomers long thought, researchers say � because it hasn't collected enough dust.
Scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., have been using data from NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn, particularly its microwave passive radiometer, to study the planet's rings. The rings are mostly composed of ice, but "it is the small fraction of non-icy material � the dust the ring collects � that is valuable for clues about the ring's origin and age," doctoral candidate Zhimeng Zhang, who led the work, told the Cornell Chronicle.
Dust drifts through space from beyond the Kuiper Belt and hits Saturn's rings. The older a ring is, therefore, the more dust it will have time to collect. And scientists can analyze the dust to figure out how old the ring is.
In the case of the C ring, the researchers say it may be just 100 million years old � much younger than previously thought.
Source: Qatar News Agency