Despite the fact that Saturn has the most impressive ring system in the Solar system, this planet is not the only one that can boast such a distinctive feature. Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus also have rings, but they are less pronounced, and so for them it is very difficult to observe without the presence of a very powerful telescope. In a recent study, scientists from the US and the UK managed to find out some details about the rings of Uranus. In particular, the astronomers were able for the first time to measure their temperature, what according to the article in the journal of the Astronomical Journal.
That Saturn has a system of rings known for a long time. They were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. However, the ring system of Uranus is a relatively recent discovery. Talking about them for the first time only in 1977, when opened using Air Observatory named Kuiper. When in 1986 by Uranium flying spacecraft “Voyager 2”, he was able to consider in more detail the ring system of this planet.
The ring system of Uranus
Today astronomers allocate 10 rings around Uranus, as well as 3 broad dust ring from front to back are referred to as 1986U2R/ζ, 6, 5, 4, α, β, η, γ, δ, λ, ε, ν and μ. According to reports, the radius of the inner ring is about 38 thousand kilometers, and almost 100 thousand. Properties they differ significantly from the rings of Saturn: they are much darker (the albedo is only about two percent against 60 some of Saturn’s rings), and all except a narrow ring of λ consist almost entirely of rather large bodies from tens centimeters to several meters in diameter. However, scientists many of the settings of the rings are unclear. In particular, it is unclear what they consist of, what thickness and weight have.
In the new study, scientists from the US and the UK for the first time received the data on the observation of rings in the millimeter and mid-infrared ranges, where the maximum thermal luminosity is heated to tens of Kelvin of telephone Data were collected by using the telescope network ALMA (“Techniques large antenna array of millimeter range”) and the eight-meter telescope of the VLT (“Very large telescope”).
Features of the rings of Uranus
The researchers found that the temperature of the bodies in the most vivid, the ring was at 77 Kelvin (-196 degrees Celsius), which is quite high and suggests either slow cooling after sunset the planet in the shade, or on a slow rotation. The survey also confirm that the brightest and densest ring of the planet of ε (Epsilon) is very different from other well-known rings available from some of the planets of the Solar system. For example, the ring system of Saturn is visibly highlighted by the fact that consists of objects ranging in size from microscopic dust particles to objects the size of large boulders. However, the rings of Uranus seem to consist mainly of relatively large objects.
“We knew that the Epsilon ring is somewhat unusual, as it is not observed small particles. Some effect pushes them out. Don’t know what. But this is an important step in understanding the composition of the rings: are they from the same source material or it’s different for each of the individual rings of the planet,” says co-author Edward Molter from the University of California at Berkeley.
In addition, the scientists found that the rings of Uranus are much darker and thinner zaturenska.
“The rings of Uranus in terms of composition different from the main Saturn’s rings: optical and infrared, their albedo is much lower, they are really dark as coal. They are also extremely thin compared to Saturn: the width of the visible rings of ε changes from 20 to 100 kilometers, while the width of the rings of Saturn can reach hundreds of thousands of kilometers,” adds the researcher.
The team learned adds that to find out more details about the ring system of Uranus will help more powerful space telescopes, such as the latest “James Webb”.
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