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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
Have you ever seen a picture of Saturn's rings? If you have ever seen a picture of Saturn, it's likely you saw its rings too! The rings are very pretty and many colors. They circle around the middle of...more
Meteors are streaks of light, usually lasting just a few seconds, which people occasionally see in the night sky. They are sometimes called "shooting stars" or "falling stars", though they are not stars...more
Saturn is the second largest planet in our solar system. It is also very bright in the sky. The ancient Greeks named the planet after the god of farming and time. The rings of Saturn were first seen by...more
The clouds of Saturn are much less colorful than those of Jupiter. This is because Saturn's atmosphere is made of more sulfur. Sulfur makes Saturn look yellow. The atmosphere of Saturn, like Jupiter, is...more
The Giant planets do not have the same kind of layers inside that the earth-like planets do. The history of the giant planets was so different that they formed with much more gas on the inside. Saturn...more
Saturn's magnetosphere is not as big as Jupiter's, but it is still pretty big. It is big enough to hold all of Saturn's moons. The shape of the magnetosphere is affected by its size. The shape is also...more
There's a lot of strange stuff going on at both the North and South Poles of Saturn. Two of Saturn's moons also have interesting polar regions. Let's take a look! The atmosphere and clouds are quite odd...more