Titan is moving away from Saturn 100 times faster
Astronomers have found that Titan’s orbit around Saturn is expanding about 100 times faster than previously expected.
Titan is the largest of the 82 moons that orbit Saturn. It has been studied extensively due to its distinct topography consisting of dunes, bodies of liquid hydrocarbon and a thick atmosphere. The Saturnian moon is also thought to have an ocean of liquid water beneath the sub-surface layer of water ice.
But in the new study published in Nature Astronomy, scientists have focused on Titan’s expanding orbit. Researchers found that Titan formed much closer to the Saturn and over a period of 4.5 billion years, migrated 1.2 million kilometres away from the planet to its current position.
This means that the Saturnian moon system, and potentially its rings, have formed and evolved more dynamically than previously believed. Based on their calculations, researchers found that Titan is moving away from Saturn at a speed of about 11 centimetres per year, which is 100 times faster than expected.
Saturn is the most distant planet that can be seen with the naked eye. It is the fifth brightest object in the solar system and is also easily studied through binoculars or a small telescope.