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I wonder why saturn rings are so thin ? Rings A, B and C are approximately just 10 meters thick which is extremely thin compared to the size of Saturn. What are the explanations for that ?

Thanks a lot in advance for your answers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Stable orbits without latitudinal precession. Beyond some limit the particles would be all over the place -- kind of like the path of our moon. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 5 at 18:39
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Not that reddit is the most reliable of sources, but here's a Q&A with a response that is at least consistent with orbital mechanics.

[Q} Oh. But why doesn't [the original particle set] just scatter around the planet, creating a big "bubble"?

[A]Let's say there's a particle that moves around in an inclined orbit, so it has both a horizontal and vertical component to its velocity. If it collides with something, it'll either get more velocity, or it'll cancel out. If the vertical component is cancelled out, its orbit doesn't change, it just becomes less inclined. If the horizontal component is cancelled out, it'll fall to a different orbit. If you've got lots of particles going in different directions, their vertical components will cancel out, while those not going in the predominant horizontal direction will collide with others, lose their velocity, and fall inward. The net result will be a ring.

[Q]That makes sense in two dimensions. But it doesn't explain why the rings are thin.

[A]If the rings are thick, it means the particles still have a vertical component to the orbit, each being slightly inclined in a different way so as to make up thickness. They would have to move very precisely for them not to collide and cancel out.

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    $\begingroup$ Orbital mechanics is mathematical, not epistemological. Can you explain why you are sure this is "consistent with orbital mechanics"? Otherwise a random uncredited sentence cluster pasted from reddit does not a Stack Exchange answer make. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 6 at 13:47

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