Uranus’ Warm Rings, Seen By Astronomers In New Images

By , in Sci/Tech on . Tagged width:

New data on Uranus’ rings surfaced after the latest images were released.

Uranus‘ rings are invisible to all telescopes but the larger ones. It’s interesting to learn that they were not discovered until 1977. They are extremely bright in some new heat images of the planet that have been taken by two large telescopes in high deserts of Chile.

This warm glow is giving astronomers a window to the rings, and these have been only seen because they are reflecting a little light in the visible/optical range and in the near infrared, notes Phys.org.

The new photos have been taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and these “allowed the team for the first time to measure the temperature of the rings: a cool 77 Kelvin, or 77 degrees above absolute zero—the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen and equivalent to 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.”

Uranus vs. Saturn’s rings 

These observations have also confirmed the fact that Uranus’ brightest and densest ring, which is called the epsilon ring is quite different from the other known ring systems that are in our solar system. They are different from Saturn’s rings.

According to Phys.org’s citings, “Saturn’s mainly icy rings are broad, bright and have a range of particle sizes, from micron-sized dust in the innermost D ring, to tens of meters in size in the main rings,” said Imke de Pater, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy.

The professor also said that “The small end is missing in the main rings of Uranus; the brightest ring, epsilon, is composed of golf ball-sized and larger rocks.”

If we compare these with Jupiter’s rings, these contain small particles which have the size of a micron a thousandth part of a millimeter).

Neptune’s rings are mostly dust, and Uranus also has sheets of dust between the main rings.

There are reportedly 13 rings around Uranus, at least that’s how many astronomers could count so far. Check out more details in the original article.