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This is how an artist thinks the Phoebe ring might look if we could see it. The Spitzer space telescope spotted the Phoebe ring. Spitzer can "see" infrared "light". Saturn and the other rings are just a tiny dot compared to the Phoebe ring. The inset picture shows Saturn magnified.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

The Phoebe Ring Around Saturn

The Phoebe Ring is one of the rings around the planet Saturn. The Phoebe Ring is much bigger than Saturn's other rings. It is about 100 times larger than the main ring system. The ring was discovered by Anne Verbiscer, Michael Skrutskie and Douglas Hamilton in October 2009.

Saturn's moon Phoebe orbits within this ring. The ring is made up of tiny pieces of ice and dust. The ring particles probably come from Phoebe. They were probably knocked loose from Phoebe's surface by meteorite impacts over many, many years. Even though the Phoebe Ring is very large, there isn't much stuff in it. We can't see the Phoebe Ring in visible light, even using the world's most powerful telescopes. The Spitzer Space Telescope was able to detect the faint Phoebe Ring using infrared "light".

Part of the Phoebe Ring crosses the orbit of another moon of Saturn, Iapetus. The surface of Iapetus is odd. Parts of the moon's surface are very bright, while other areas are very dark. Scientists think icy Iapetus is being splattered with dark particles from the Phoebe Ring. Phoebe has one of the darkest surfaces in our Solar System.

Last modified October 9, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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