On April 15, 2013, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured images of what appears to be the birth of a new moon located along the outer edges of Saturn’s outermost ring. Saturn has the second most moons of any planet in our solar system at 53 (and 9 provisional ones), with Jupiter taking the lead at 63 (as of 2009).
Scientists have long theorized that Saturn’s moons form when icy debris located throughout Saturn’s rings begin to clump. Over time, these clumps continue to collect additional ice and debris until they are large enough to drift out into orbit. Cassini’s discovery seems to strengthen this theory.
Named Peggy after astronomer Carl Murray’s mother-in-law, Saturn’s new moon may very well fall apart. Nevertheless, this discovery will help scientists learn more about how Saturn’s moons are formed.
(featured image credit: NASA/JPL)