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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Traab's Avatar

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    Default Quick question about the planets.

    I was curious, with the planets that have rings around them, would there be any measurable effect on the planet if the rings just vanished? Would it have any effect on their rotation, their orbit, even whatever passes for weather on the planets? I ask because they are far more spread out than say, a single moon would be, but there are just so many of them with so much total mass I wondered if they had any effect on the planet itself.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Quick question about the planets.

    Compared to the planet itself, the mass of the rings are negligible. So the only one of your topics that might be affected is weather (itself a very delicate multi-factor system), or at least what passes for weather on a gas giant (hurricane force winds all day every day at a pressure that converts gases to liquids).

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Quick question about the planets.

    If the rings are at an angle to the sun, they'll cast a heck of a shadow on the planet.

    This would do two things:
    1. Make the world generally colder
    2. Really increase seasonal variation.

    In particular, if the axis of the rings matches up with the planet's axis of rotation, you'll get the shadow during winter (when your hemisphere is facing away from the sun), so you'll get a much colder and darker winter than you would otherwise.

    So taking them away would make winters noticeably warmer, and give plants more sunlight during winter.

    If the axis of the rings does not line up with the planet's axis of rotation, such that you get the shadow during the time your hemisphere is facing towards the sun, then (assuming big, thick rings), the shadowed time would probably be your 'winter' and the unshadowed time your 'summer'. Taking the rings away would cause the seasons to flip.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Quick question about the planets.

    I wonder if the rings have an effect on not tides, but the average height of whatever liquid methane or other odd substance passes for water. I bet rings along the equator exert some gravitational pull flattening the poles and bulging the equator.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Quick question about the planets.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkVIIIMarc View Post
    I wonder if the rings have an effect on not tides, but the average height of whatever liquid methane or other odd substance passes for water. I bet rings along the equator exert some gravitational pull flattening the poles and bulging the equator.
    I think that depends on how high above the surface the rings hang, in proportion to the size of the planet. If the Earth had a ring as far out as the Moon the effect might be negligible, because while the part of the ring overhead is pulling one way, the other half of the ring is pulling the other way with pretty much the same force. If the ring hung 100 km above the Earths surface (somehow) the effect it had on the water and ground would be bigger, because the system is more unbalanced, water on side A feels significantly more pull from the A side of the ring.
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2019-04-06 at 06:46 AM.
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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Quick question about the planets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    I think that depends on how high above the surface the rings hang, in proportion to the size of the planet. If the Earth had a ring as far out as the Moon the effect might be negligible, because while the part of the ring overhead is pulling one way, the other half of the ring is pulling the other way with pretty much the same force. If the ring hung 100 km above the Earths surface (somehow) the effect it had on the water and ground would be bigger, because the system is more unbalanced, water on side A feels significantly more pull from the A side of the ring.
    The rings are tiny. The moons of Saturn weigh much more than the rings, and compared to Saturn even the moons are relatively tiny, more like Mar's moons than Earth's.
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