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Saturn's rings almost edge on. Also note from left to right: Enceladus, Dione, Titan
and Mimas (just above the ring plane). Credit: Hubble Space Telescope.



Vanishing Rings
May 20, 2009

Saturn's rings will soon disappear from view. What force created and sustains them?

Every fourteen or fifteen years, Saturn's rings become invisible to telescopes on Earth. The reason is that the planet is tilted on its axis by 27.4 degrees. Since the ring plane is titled at the same angle, as Saturn revolves around the Sun in its 30 year orbit, it gradually shifts its perspective, bringing the rings into visual alignment with the equator.

Saturn's main rings, including gaps, are approximately 416,000 kilometers wide, but are estimated to be a mere 50 meters thick, possibly as little as 10 meters. This means that even the most powerful Earth-based telescopes can detect only a thin wire extending across the planetary disk when they are edge on.

Modern astronomers postulate that Saturn's rings were formed in one of three ways. Some believe that they are the icy leftovers from the original nebular cloud out of which the planet condensed. Others suggest that the orbit of a small moon gradually brought it too close to the giant planet, whereupon it was torn apart by tidal forces. Still others believe that the rings were created when a moon was destroyed by the impact of an asteroid, leaving the fragments behind in their own orbits. Regardless of the way they were formed, they are theorized to be over four billion years old—almost as old as the Solar System.

What sustains the rings is still a mystery to astrophysicists. If they were formed billions of years ago, then without being fed new material they would have been drawn down into Saturn's gravitational maelstrom and destroyed. It is thought that micro-meteorite impacts "erode" material off some small moons and eject it into orbit, where it is slowly sorted by Saturn's gravity field into thousands of individual bands. The rings continue because some moons are getting smaller all the time.

However, the Electric Universe hypothesis sees things differently. In previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day articles about the plasmasphere around Saturn, it was noted that planets and moons do not exist in an electrically neutral environment. Saturn, in particular, has a family of moons that exhibit electric discharge machining on a vast scale, as well as features within its atmosphere that could be characterized as lightning discharges.

The aurorae on Saturn emit intense radio waves and the planet is surrounded by a torus of plasma that emits x-rays and extreme ultraviolet light. Saturn seems to display many aspects that are predicted by the Electric Universe theory, including the shape of its rings. In 1913 Kristian Birkeland wrote: "It seems almost incredible that such a ring of cosmic dust should be able to exist for ever, so to speak, without other governing forces than gravitation..."

Planets with magnetic fields can trap hot particles to form giant electrified clouds. NASA scientists have noted that Saturn's magnetic field bends around Enceladus "due to electric currents generated by the interaction of atmospheric particles and the magnetosphere of Saturn." Further flattening of the plasma torus on the sunward side demonstrates an electrical (not mechanical) effect is occurring between Saturn and the Sun.

Gravity-only models of the solar system insist that Saturn's rings can only be created, held and shaped by the activity of "shepherd moons" and angular momentum. Instead, we should look to the electrical force that is orders of magnitude more powerful.

Stephen Smith



SPECIAL NOTE - **New Volumes Available:
We are pleased to announce a new e-book series THE UNIVERSE ELECTRIC. Available now, the first volume of this series, titled Big Bang, summarizes the failure of modern cosmology and offers a new electrical perspective on the cosmos. At over 200 pages, and designed for broadest public appeal, it combines spectacular full-color graphics with lean and readily understandable text.

**Then second and third volumes in the series are now available, respectively titled Sun and Comet, they offer the reader easy to understand explanations of how and why these bodies exist within an Electric Universe.

High school and college students--and teachers in numerous fields--will love these books. So will a large audience of general readers.

Visitors to the site have often wondered whether they could fully appreciate the Electric Universe without further formal education. The answer is given by these exquisitely designed books. Readers from virtually all backgrounds and education levels will find them easy to comprehend, from start to finish.

For the Thunderbolts Project, this series is a milestone. Please see for yourself by checking out the new Thunderbolts Project website, our leading edge in reaching new markets globally.

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Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.
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Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
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In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
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Ian Tresman, Tom Wilson
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