The idea answers two gas giant puzzles.
A new hypothesis indicates Saturn's iconic rings were created when one of its moons got too near to the planet.
This satellite may have been ripped apart by its host's powerful gravitational field. Scientists think the resultant debris generated many of the modern rings. MIT's Jack Wisdom,
who named the moon "Chrysalis," thinks so.
This account also explains the tilt of Saturn's axis and why the rings are just 100 million years old, although Saturn originated nearly 4 billion years ago.
"The tilt is too great to come from known protoplanetary disc formation processes or later, huge impacts," Wisdom added. "No explanation is fully compelling.
Cool, our hypothesis explains the rings' youthful age."
Science released an article describing the team's idea.
Saturn tilts 26 degrees to one side, greater than Earth's 22.1 to 24.5 degrees. Saturn's tilt is presumably caused by a gravitational dance with Neptune.