A Crashing World Broke Young Jupiter's Heart

 Banded, big, and beautiful, enormous Jupiter reigns supreme as the King of Planets in our Sun's enchanting family. This distant world, famous for its crimson hurricane-like storms and many moons, sports the hefty mass of 2.5 times that of all the other major planets in our Solar System combined. Indeed, Jupiter is so massive that its barycenter with our Sun is situated above the Sun's surface at 1.068 solar radii from the Sun's center. But, beneath its extremely heavy blanket of gas, Jupiter hides a tragic secret. At its very core, Jupiter has a broken heart. In August 2019, a team of astronomers announced that they may have determined how Jupiter's heart was broken. This majestic world may still be reeling from a colossal head-on collision, that it suffered in its youth, with a still-forming protoplanet. The sad event occurred in the early days of our Solar System, about 4.5 billion years ago. This new theory could explain mysterious readings obtained from NASA's

The Bewitching, Bewildering Rings Of Saturn

 Mother Nature is a notorious tease, who seems to delight in confusing those who attempt to solve her myriad, magnificent mysteries. The rings of the beautiful gas-giant planet Saturn are a case in point, and there is a longstanding, unresolved debate among planetary scientists who are trying to determine their true age, and who are maddeningly coming up with contradictory results. Sometimes the evidence suggests that the rings are younger than the dinosaurs that died off about 65 million years ago, while other lines of evidence indicate that they are as old as our 4.56 billion year old Solar System. In September 2019, a team of astronomers presented their new findings that reignited the debate about the age of Saturn's rings. The new study proposes that the rings are most likely very ancient, and probably formed early in the history of our Solar System. In a paper published in the September 16, 2019 edition of Nature Astronomy and presented at the joint meeting of the European P

Enceladus Brightens Its Sister Moons With Snow

 In the cold twilight of the outer Solar System, the beautiful ringed planet Saturn and its myriad moons orbit our Sun in frigid splendor. Enceladus is an intermediate-size moon of Saturn, and it harbors a sloshing subsurface ocean of liquid water well-hidden beneath its crust of ice. The moons of Saturn are diverse and numerous, ranging in size from tiny moonlets that are less than a kilometer across to the hydrocarbon-slashed enormous moon Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury. But little Enceladus stands out in the crowd because of its subsurface global ocean, which suggests the possibility--though by no means the promise--that aquatic life swims around in the dark hidden waters beneath its shell of ice. In September, 2019, a team of planetary scientists announced that radar observations of Saturn's intermediate-size moons, Mimas, Enceladus, and Tethys, reveal that Enceladus is spraying out a snow storm that coats both itself and its two sister moons with fresh, sparkl