To understand how the events may have transpired, scientists chose Saturn’s moon Iapetus as a reference and created another satellite called Chrysalis to study the planetary dynamics. The team ran 390 simulation processes, and in some of them, Chrysalis either collided with fellow satellites or got knocked away from its orbital trajectory. Interestingly, of the 390 simulation rounds, 17 tests implied that Chrysalis came too close to Saturn and was subsequently torn apart by the strong gravitational forces.
The remnants of the destroyed moon floated in orbit for a while, and as time passed, they broke into smaller icy fragments and formed the rings that we see today. The simulation models offer a fascinating perspective by spinning the planetary wheels backward in time. Plus, the modelling experiment also purportedly solves the mystery of how Saturn escaped its resonance equation with Neptune and acquired its signature tilt. Of course, more concrete evidence is needed to verify the theory, but the behavior is not unprecedented.
Jupiter’s tidal forces are known to break apart large wandering comets into smaller pieces if they pass too close to the giant. In binary systems, larger stars have been observed sucking up gaseous material like some sort of stellar vampire. Black holes, well, they do something even more extreme, called “Spaghettification,” in which their immense gravitational force pulls a star with such force that the stream of material looks like filaments.