New Visualization of Saturn's Interaction with Daphnis Reveal Stunning Wavy Rings

Monday, 22 August 2016 - 3:28PM
Space Imagery
Solar System
Monday, 22 August 2016 - 3:28PM
New Visualization of Saturn's Interaction with Daphnis Reveal Stunning Wavy Rings
Saturn's rings are one of the most iconic and instantly-recognizable visuals in our Solar System. But in the Keeler Gap, a wide space within the rings in which the moon Daphnis orbits, the rings look very, very different. In a new visualization from artist Kevin Gill, we can see the waves induced in Saturn's rings from the perspective of someone standing right in the Keeler Gap.

Daphnis in the Keeler Gap

Daphnis  & Waves Along the Keeler Gap

The Keeler Gap is a 42-kilometer gap within the A Ring, the outermost ring of Saturn. Within that gap is the orbit of Saturn's moon Daphnis, which keeps the area completely clear. Daphnis' path induces waves in the A Ring on the edges of the gap, as NASA has confirmed with images from Cassini:

Daphnis

However, all of the images taken by NASA, including the above photo taken in 2010, only show the ripples from a great distance. In response to these images, Gill created a simulation—using Autodesk Maya and Photoshop—of the rings from inside the Keeler Gap, so we could see these waves from up close. There's no way to know for sure whether they would actually look this way, of course, but these images are consistent with all of NASA's knowledge about this visually arresting anomaly.

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"These are inspired by a general interest in the moon-ring interactions," Gill told Universe Today. "This is one of the many aspects of the Saturn system that I imagine would be absolutely breathtaking if you could see it in person and ended up being rather simple to model in Maya."
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Science
NASA
Space Imagery
Solar System