How the rings of Saturn were formed

23 March 2022

From BBC Earth Lab. Many millions of years ago, one of Saturn’s erstwhile moons, strayed a little too close, crossed a line, the Roche Limit, and shattered into billions of pieces, having been torn apart by the immense gravity of the Solar System’s second largest planet.

Saturn’s incredible ring system was the result of this cataclysmic event, once the remnants of the moon, some seventeen trillion tons of icy material, spread out in orbit around the planet. It would have been an incredible spectacle to witness, had anyone been around to see it all happen.