What is the new ring around Saturn?

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Offline Huxlly

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What is the new ring around Saturn?
« on: 09/10/2009 05:50:01 »
NASA discover enormous ring around Saturn? What is this?

Mod edit - please format the subject as a question - this helps to keep the forum tidy and easy to navigate.
« Last Edit: 09/10/2009 16:44:29 by BenV »


Offline CliffordK

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What is the new ring around Saturn?
« Reply #1 on: 04/12/2010 10:09:26 »

Most interesting.

What I see is a single image reproduced over and over again along with an artists rendition. 

Wikipedia does have a good summary of information pertaining the ring.

And I think this may be the original published article.

Apparently the "ring" reflects almost no light which is the reason that it was discovered so late.
However, it absorbs heat from the sun, and thus radiates IR.

I had to ask why... if it was so enormous (described as covering an area viewable from the earth, twice the diameter of our moon), why it was unseen until now, and why the images are so sparse.  I.E.  Some wonderful artist's renditions, but very few photos.  The answer to the first is that I assume that earth's atmosphere interferes with the ability to view weak IR signals.  The answer to the second would be that the billions of stars would also interfere with the ability to see it, so at best, one would get a view covered with holes from masking the stars.

A couple of things I find interesting... first the explanation for the ring is that it was created by a cosmic collision with the moon Phoebe.  Perhaps that will help us understand the origins of the rest of Saturn's rings.

The other thing is that this is an apparently a method to image and view micrometeoroids that would otherwise be invisible to view from reflections of light.  These micrometeoroids being viewed are on the order of 5 to 40 Microns.  This may actually aid with the ability to direct spacecraft away from asteroids, meteoroids, and micrometeoroids.