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December 2 2012

Saturn's rings may double up as a moon factory


Many of the moons in the solar system could have been spawned from giant rings around planets. According to a new model, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and even the Earth may have once had ring systems that gave rise to satellites.

We used to think that moons form around planets in the same way as planets form around stars: coalescing from a gaseous disc that surrounded the planet as it formed. That model still applies to some moons, like those of Jupiter.

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