Wednesday, October 07, 2009

NASA: Spitzer finds giant ring around Saturn

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, soon to be superseded by the European Herschel, is looking at the Universe in the far infrared and submillimeter spectrum.

Artist's idealization: click to zoom in...

And imagine what happened when it looked closely at the neighborhood of Saturn.

There is a new giant ring around the planet whose radius is 300 times larger than the radius of Saturn. The ring, tilted by 27 degrees relatively to the main plane of rings, is too thin to visibly reflect the solar radiation but the dust emits its own infrared, 80-Kelvin thermal radiation that could have been seen by Spitzer.

The outer moon Phoebe orbits inside the new ring and it is probably no coincidence.

See NASA or Google News.

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