Utilizing this strategy as a basis for another project, Colwell is working with his students to discover how planets are formed.

“We're going to explore that intermediate stage between dust and mountains to learn about the formation of planets."

The particles themselves range in size from that of a marble to the size of a car. They are made of water and ice, like snowballs orbiting Saturn. They are bumping into each other, constantly changing and evolving over billions of years, which studies have shown.

The moons orbit Saturn and cross paths through the gaps in the rings. The overall shape of the rings looks much like your fingers when you hold them up to your face.

His students call it Colwell’s granola bars.

“You see pictures in a book, but when you see them through a telescope with your eyes, they’re really there.  It’s really spectacular,” Colwell said.


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