View Full Version : NASA Space Telescope Discovers Largest Ring Around Saturn

Foolish Mortal
10-07-2009, 06:43 AM
NASA Space Telescope Discovers Largest Ring Around Saturn (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/oct/HQ_09-231_Spitzer.html)


Oct. 7, 2009

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered an enormous ring around Saturn -- by far the largest of the giant planet's many rings.

The new belt lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system, with an orbit tilted 27 degrees from the main ring plane. The bulk of its material starts about six million kilometers (3.7 million miles) away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers (7.4 million miles). One of Saturn's farthest moons, Phoebe, circles within the newfound ring, and is likely the source of its material.

Saturn's newest halo is thick, too -- its vertical height is about 20 times the diameter of the planet. It would take about one billion Earths stacked together to fill the ring.

"This is one supersized ring," said Anne Verbiscer, an astronomer at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. "If you could see the ring, it would span the width of two full moons' worth of sky, one on either side of Saturn." Verbiscer; Douglas Hamilton of the University of Maryland, College Park; and Michael Skrutskie, of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, are authors of a paper about the discovery to be published online tomorrow by the journal Nature.

An artist's concept of the newfound ring is online at


The ring itself is tenuous, made up of a thin array of ice and dust particles. Spitzer's infrared eyes were able to spot the glow of the band's cool dust. The telescope, launched in 2003, is currently 107 million kilometers (66 million miles) from Earth in orbit around the sun.

10-07-2009, 03:38 PM
Astronomers Discovers Ring Around Saturn

Dumbest headline of all time.

10-07-2009, 04:28 PM
seems odd that the largest ring is the newest to be found. but it is quite a large ring.

Foolish Mortal
10-07-2009, 04:32 PM
seems odd that the largest ring is the newest to be found. but it is quite a large ring.
Because it's essentially invisible to old telescopes. The space telescopes are much more sensitive and capable of detecting smaller particles.

The Hodag
10-07-2009, 05:26 PM
That's a big Twinkie.

10-07-2009, 05:32 PM
Dumbest headline of all time.

Yep. I thought it was an Onion article at first!