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Saturn's rings are unstable (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Saturn's rings are unstable (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CE240:

Saturn's rings are unstable. They gradually drift outward, and disruption from bombardment could mean that they could not last more than 10,000 years. The rings cannot be billions of years old.

Source: Ackerman, Paul D, 1986. It's a Young World After All. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, p. 45. Cited in Hovind, Kent, n.d. Universe is not "billions of years" old.

  • Brown, Walt, 1995. In the Beginning Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, p. 29.

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Saturn's rings may be less than 100 million years old. However, that says nothing about the age of the planet. The rings could have formed when Saturn captured a small moon that fell within the Roche limit (the distance below which moons will be pulled apart by tidal forces). This could have happened any time in Saturn's history.

2. Saturn's moons shepherd the particles that make up the rings, preventing them from drifting and maintaining the gaps between the rings. This shepherding may allow the rings to be much older than 100 million years. (However, the color of the rings suggests not much more than 100 million years' worth of accumulated dust.)

A more recent study of water loss set the upward limit at 30 million years.

The fact is that the events that can form rings are rare and the rings don't last long, yet currently all four gas giants in the Solar System have rings. This suggest some type of system wide disaster, possibly associated with the Genesis Flood.

Reference: Saturn's rings short-lived and young