Saturn has an Extra Large Ring!

08 October 2009

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This post is old… It's probably been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the year. That probably means that there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any adivce is out of date and irrelevant. Or more likely, it was the wafflings of bored-past me with too much time on his hands. If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.  And as a result scientists are always finding new and exciting things about it.  One of the more interesting discoveries of late has come very close to home... The planet Saturn, the second largest in our solar system and placed sixth from the sun, known my many because of it's rings has had another huge ring added to it.

This new ring is 200 times larger than any of the current rings and is made up of lots of tiny particles of dust that are invisible to the naked eye. These particles of dust are thought to come from impacts of tiny meteors that have hit one of Saturn's orbiting moons called Phoebe which is in the centre of this giant new ring.

Scientists have always been curious as to why Iapetus, another of Saturn's closer moons, has a light and dark patch around it. The theory of this ring was originally proposed back in the seventies by Joseph Burns, however it is only through the advances in telescope technology that has allowed NASA to see the invisible ring using the infra-red Spitzer Space Telescope.

It has also been theorised that the moon Rhea, which also orbits Saturn, has a set of rings, however these have only been inferred as a result of odd magnetic fields, nothing conclusive has been seen.  If this was proved then it would be the first moon found to have a set of rings.
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