Skip to comments.Cosmic Kittens: Saturn Features Get Feline Names
Posted on 09/25/2017 10:45:16 AM PDT by BenLurkin
Saturn's kittens are a group of small clumps and baby moons, or moonlets, that occupy the planet's F ring. Like the rest of Saturn's rings, this thin outer ring is made up of countless particles that range in size. When enough of those particles bump into one another and stick together, they aggregate into larger clumps and become eligible for a kitten name.
So far, the list of Saturn's kitten names includes several classics, like Fluffy, Garfield, Socks and Whiskers. These are unofficial nicknames for more-complicated (and less adorable) official titles like "Alpha Leonis Rev 9" (aka, Mittens).
The technical names for these features come from events called stellar occultations, during which Cassini was able to detect the little clumps. In a stellar occultation, a star passes behind Saturn's rings from Cassini's point of view.
"Most of the clumps are transient. They come and go, and they're small, but some of them get bigger," and they may grow enough to eventually clear a gap through the ring, at which point they could be classified as actual moons, he explained.
However, keeping track of the kittens over time is somewhat of an impossible task, he said. For one, there isn't a spacecraft at Saturn to keep watching the stellar occultations. And even if there were, each kitten sighting is "so rare that we never see them again," he said.
Even if scientists did eventually see one of Esposito's kittens with another spacecraft in the future, researchers may not be able to identify them anymore after all the collisions those kittens would go through in the years between each observation, he explained.
Although it would be nearly impossible to see the same kitten twice, Esposito and his team are still studying and naming Saturn's kittens.
(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...
Sounds like the area around Saturn is *littered* with these. Turns the whole area into a clowder, or rather a kindle.
I’ve got twelve tabs with kitten pics open right now, just because of this topic. Dang, I feel all warm and furry inside.
When you finally gack one up, you could name it Bill.
These “kittens” that are so rarely seen, but are said to have formed from particles coming together out in space, is this a theory or a fact? If they think it is a fact, how do they think that they know this fact?
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