NASA Telescope Finds New Ring Around Saturn
The largest ring in the solar system has been found around Saturn by NASA's Spitzer Telescope. The source of the debris comprising the ring is thought to be Saturn's moon Phoebe that could release debris if hit by various space rocks.
The two-faced image of Saturn's moon Iapetus could finally be explained by the discovery of this new ring around the planet which could cause one side of its hemisphere to appear darker than the other.
The newly discovered ring spans from 128 to 207 times the radius of Saturn – or farther – and is 2.4 million kilometres thick. It was found using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which revealed an infrared glow thought to come from sun-warmed dust in a tenuous ring.
The discovery was announced on Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. "This is a unique planetary ring system, because it's the largest planetary ring in the solar system," team leader Anne Verbiscer of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville told the meeting.
Saturn's E ring was formerly the largest in the solar system, extending 3-20 times Saturn's radius.