British Scientist Names Mysterious Object on Saturn’s Ring ‘Peggy’ After His Mother-In-lawBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
The mysterious object spotted in one of Saturn's rings is speculated to be the birth of a new moon. The object, which has been located at the right edge of Saturn's A ring, has been named 'Peggy' after a British Scientist's mother-in-law.
Peggy was captured accidentally on April 15 by NASA's Cassini spacecraft that was actually focusing on Prometheus, an inner satellite of Saturn. Since professor Carl Murray of Queen Mary University of London was analyzing the images on April 19, the same day as his mother-in-law's 80th birthday, he named the object after her.
"I'd not seen anything like this personally in the A ring," Muray said during a talk at the 2013 American Geophysical Union conference, Wired reports.
As Peggy is believed to be about a 0.6 miles (1km) in diameter, experts claim that it is too small to develop into a moon or even moonlet, which is generally at least 10 times larger.
Scientists state that the object could be the result of the accumulation of ring material that must have collapsed under its own weight due to gravitation. Moons that orbit near the rings usually form this way. They first create a ring of dust and then gather additional material to grow.
Another possibility is that the mystery object could be just a temporary thing. Probably, a cluster of material must have come together and then broken up into smaller chunks in the ring.
To solve the mystery, Murray scanned Cassini's image archive and found pictures of Peggy as early as June 2012. But it is uncertain if Cassini captured the object after April.
"It may well be that the discovery image was the breakup of the object," Murray said.
The Cassini team is scheduled to initiate a probe into Peggy to determine its true identity. They will be closely observing the status of Peggy after January because gravitational interactions from two moons Janus and Epimetheus will cause the A ring to expand outward, away from Saturn.
Saturn's full year is equivalent to 30 Earth years. Until now, 62 moons have been discovered in orbits around Saturn, and 53 of them have been officially named, according to NASA.