Close-up of the Uranus rings

New Rare Images of the Uranus Rings have recently published

The image of Saturn comes quickly to mind when it comes to rings, but it is not the only planet in our solar system to have rings. Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus also have some, though they are more difficult to observe from Earth.

The rings around Uranus were only discovered in 1977, since they reflect very little light in the visible spectrum and are hardly observable in near infrared radiation.

However, new thermal images (heat) captured with the help of two observation instruments (the Very Large Telescope and the ALMA network) installed in the Atacama desert in Chile allow today to better identify these 13 rings around of the seventh planet of the solar system.

These thermal images allowed, for the first time, an American-British team of astrophysicists to estimate the average temperature of the rings around Uranus at 77 Kelvin, which corresponds to -196 degrees Celsius.

The data collected also confirm that Uranus’ brightest and densest ring, Epsilon, is very different from other known ring systems in our system.

The rings of Saturn, mainly glossy, are broad, shiny and composed of particles whose sizes vary from dust grains (in ring D) to blocks of tens of meters (in the main rings).

Imke de Pater, University of California at Berkeley

The paper is available to view on pre-publication archive arXiv.

But the rings of Uranus do not seem to have very fine particles. For example, the Epsilon ring is composed of rocks not smaller than a golf ball, but which can also reach larger dimensions.

Jupiter and Neptune both have very dusty rings, consisting mainly of fine particles. In comparison, the rings of Jupiter contain mostly small particles of the order of one micron (one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter). The rings of Neptune are also mainly composed of dust.

There is dust in orbit around Uranus, but it is between its rings.

The composition of the rings of Uranus is different from that of the main ring of Saturn. […]. They are really dark, like charcoal, and extremely narrow compared to the rings of Saturn.

Imke de Pater, University of California at Berkeley

“The widest ring, Epsilon, varies from 20 to 100 kilometers wide, while those of Saturn are 100 km or tens of thousands of kilometers wide,” adds Imke de Pater.

The details of this work are published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal.

During its final descent to Saturn in 2017, the Cassini spacecraft collected data, including hundreds of very high resolution images and various measurements taken using its many instruments. Scientists continue to analyze them today.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory scientists describe in a series of studies published in Science magazine complex elements sculpted by the gravitational interactions between Saturn’s moons and the particles present in its rings.

Specific textures and patterns are visible in the images, and raise questions about the interactions that shaped them. New maps also reveal how colors, chemistry and temperature move through the rings.

In addition, the results of one of these researches suggest that the rings of Saturn are relatively young, galactically, and would have formed 10 to 100 million years ago.

It has been established for several years that the icy little moon of Saturn, Enceladus, contains an underground ocean.

New research by US researchers at the University of Washington suggests that this ocean probably has a pH closer to that of the Earth than it was estimated today. In addition, the concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen would also be higher than estimated.

It has been established for several years that the icy little moon of Saturn, Enceladus, contains an underground ocean.

New research by US researchers at the University of Washington suggests that this ocean probably has a pH closer to that of the Earth than it was estimated today. In addition, the concentrations of carbon dioxide and hydrogen would also be higher than estimated.

This new knowledge suggests that conditions are more favorable to microbial life than previous estimates.

Recall that in 2017, other work had detected hydrogen in a plume of steam emanating from cracks in the thick layer of ice Enceladus.

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