Saturn’s Phobe Ring Twice Bigger Than Previously Believed

This diagram illustrates the extent of the largest ring around Saturn, discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.  The ring is huge, and far from the gas planet and the rest of its majestic rings.

Astronomers have discovered that Saturn’s phobe ring is twice bigger than previously assumed.

The planet has a unique set of rings in the solar system. They spread over hundreds or thousands of kilometers. They are composed of numerous tiny particles of dust, water and other structures.

In 2009, Saturn’s Phobe ring was spotted through Spitzer Space Telescope. The ring is so huge that the rest of rings look like a small dot in front of it. It was quite difficult for astronomers to detect the ring in visible light. Hence, they used infrared wavelength to study them. The analysis reveals the composition of the ring: dust. The powerful energy of sunlight heats up the dust particles. As a result, the material glows.

Previous studies showed that the size of the ring is 4.4-7.8 million miles. However, the recent research rebuffs the previous estimation of size. It proposes that the ring stretches about 3.75 million to 10.1 million miles. It covers a considerable section of sky. The figures are 30 percent larger as compared to the previous one.

Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames, discusses the study. He states that this is the first time any such rings are detected. The team was not expecting wider rings of this kind.

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