The satellite of Mars Phobos may collapse in the distant future, and a ring will form from fragments and dust around Mars.
This assumption was voiced by astronomers from the American SETI Institute. Their work is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Mars has two satellites – Phobos and Deimos. According to one hypothesis, voiced by other researchers in 2017, they did not form simultaneously with Mars but gathered in a near-Martian orbit after a major cosmic cataclysm. Perhaps in the past, Mars survived a collision with planetesimal, throwing a huge mass of rocks into orbit. Part of this substance subsequently gathered in orbit in the form of satellites.
In a new study, SETI astronomers studied the orbital inclination of Deimos. It is less than 1 degree to the equator of Mars and about 1.8 degrees to the Laplace plane. Previously, no one paid much attention to such a small deviation, scientists say.
They modeled how the tilt of the Deimos axis could appear and came to the conclusion that it was triggered by the “sudden” formation of a new moon – Phobos. This happened 3.5-3.9 billion years ago.
Scientists not only confirmed the previous hypothesis but also predicted a recurrence of the Martian cataclysm in the future.
As you know, Phobos is gradually approaching Mars as a result of the tidal influence of the planet. SETI astronomers expect Phobos to reach the Roche limit within 100 million years, after which the tidal forces of the planet will tear the moon apart. As a result, a planetary ring will appear around Mars. From this dust and debris, perhaps, a new Phobos is formed.