Feeds

Saturn's moon Phoebe may be captured planetoid

It came from the Kuiper belt

Security for virtualized datacentres

New analysis of images of Phoebe, one of Saturn's many moons, suggests it may be have started life as a planetoid in the Kuiper belt.

A paper in the April issue of Icarus suggests that after study with what NASA describes as “data from multiple spacecraft instruments and a computer model of the moon's chemistry, geophysics and geology” boffins reached the conclusion that Phoebe is a “remnant planetary building block.”

Phoebe: mostly round

One telltale sign is the moon's shape, visible at right. "From the shape seen in Cassini images and modeling the likely cratering history, we were able to see that Phoebe started with a nearly spherical shape, rather than being an irregular shape later smoothed into a sphere by impacts," said Peter Thomas, a Cassini team member and co-author of the study. That heat may have come from radioactive elements which generated internal heat and helped the object to form. Internal warming may, the paper says, account for water signatures found by Cassini, as Phoebe may once have been warm enough to host liquid water.

Other evidence for the theory includes Phoebe's density, which is close to that of Pluto and therefore hints at similar origins. Throw in the fact that Phoebe orbits backwards and scientists feel it may have been captured by Saturn's gravity, rather than the process that caused its other moons to form. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.