While observing the Mars’s largest moon Phobos, astronomers have found that it is slowly and steadily spiralling into the Red Planet. It is expected that the moon will get destroyed in coming years and will form a ring-like structure around Mars as seen in Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune, say scientists including an Indian-origin.
Although Phobos is dying but we will not be there to witness the demise of Mars’s largest moon as the event will happen in 20 to 40 million years. Due to the gravity of Mars, Phobos will make a ring that will persist for one million to 100 million years. After estimating the cohesiveness of Phobos, Postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Black and graduate student Tushar Mittal concluded that it is nearly impossible for a structure like Phobos to escape or resist the gravity and tidal pull of Mars that will pull it apart when it gets close enough to the Red Planet.
Researchers explained that Earth’s moon generates tidal waves in the oceans due to gravitational pull, similarly Mars also pulls different parts of Phobos which will lead to demise of the largest moon of Mars. Since, Phobos is highly fractured and has pores and rubble in vast numbers, the gravitational pull will actually tear apart the moon and chunks emitted from it will spiral into the planet and some collide with the planet. However, most of the debris will start circling the Red Planet forming a ring for millions of years before colliding with the planet. Black said that meteor shower will occur when space chunks will start dropping onto the planet.
Black further explained that ring will never form on Earth since our moon is moving away nearly 3 centimetres each year while Phobos is moving closer to the Mars few centimetres per year, thus logically it will either break apart and form a ring or it will crash into the planet. However, scientists aren’t completely sure yet whether Phobos will crash or form a ring, most probably it will form a ring but what’s notable is that it’s demise is confirmed.