All submissions of the EM system will be redirected to Online Manuscript Submission System. Authors are requested to submit articles directly to Online Manuscript Submission System of respective journal.


An Alternative Explanation of the 'Spokes' Observed in Saturn's Rings

Author(s): Fenton J. Doolan

Observed first by amateur astronomer Stephen J. O’Meara in the 1970s and then subsequently observed by the Voyager Spacecraft flybys in the early 1980s (FIG. 1), it was realized that the ‘spokes’ flare out like spokes on a bicycle wheel. The observed behavior of the ‘spokes’ indicates that they are not governed by gravitational interactions with the planet, moons, or ring material. In 2005 the Cassini probe confirmed that the ‘spokes’ are likely under the influence of the gas giant’s global magnetic field. Here we show the ‘spokes’ that appear in Saturn’s rings consist of grains of silicates coated in pyrolytic carbon through the process of Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Pyrolytic carbon is a highly diamagnetic substance that can levitate above a sufficiently strong magnetic field. The ‘spokes’ also consist of ice particles that are diamagnetic as well. The photoelectric effect can be used to explain why the silicates coated in pyrolytic carbon return to the main ring structure when exposed to sunlight of a specific frequency. The pyrolytic carbon grains become paramagnetic when some of the unhybridised 2pz orbitals lose their unpaired delocalized electrons, thus collapsing the π bond molecular orbital structure. The pyrolytic carbon grains are now attracted towards the magnetic field emanating above and below the main ring structure. It is suggested that the ‘spokes’ in Saturn’s B ring are always present and that no plasma triggering event is required to increase plasma density. The ‘spokes’, however, are only visible when a favorable viewing angle is allowed, and their visibility is also dependent on the angle of the sunlight hitting Saturn’s rings.

Share this