Astronomy:Chrysalis (hypothetical moon)

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In the astronomy of the Solar System, Chrysalis is a hypothetical moon of Saturn, named in 2022 by scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology using data from the Cassini–Huygens mission.[1] The moon would have been torn apart by Saturn's tidal forces, somewhere between 200 and 100 million years ago. Up to 99% of the moon's mass would have been swallowed by Saturn, with the remaining 1% forming the rings of Saturn.[2] The origin of Saturn's rings from the destruction of a satellite has been previously proposed by other authors.[3] Chrysalis was hypothesized to be similar in size and mass to Iapetus, with a similar water-ice composition, and to have orbited somewhere between Iapetus and Titan. Its orbit around Saturn may have been degraded as a result of Titan's orbit expanding due to interactions of the Saturn system with a resonance with Neptune, resulting in the increasing eccentricity of Chrysalis's orbit until being torn apart during a close encounter with Saturn by its parent planet's gravitational force.[4]

The hypothetical moon was named after the pupa stage of a butterfly, with the rings of Saturn representing its emergence from the chrysalis.[4]

See also