Saturn’s Dynamic Ring
10 March 2014

Fig. 1
This is a close-up image of Saturn’s rings, acquired by the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft, showing an interesting deformation within the rings.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
 

There are four ringed planets in the solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Saturn’s rings, however, are the largest and most magnificent, as the other planetary rings are faint and smaller in size. The Saturnian rings consist of icy particles, ranging in size from as tiny as dust grains to as large as boulders. The ring particles orbit Saturn, as very tiny moons. The rings also contain numerous smaller ringlets.

The rings are designated English letters, in order of discovery, e.g., A Ring, B Ring, and C Ring.    

The F ring is characterized by frequent activity. It is regarded as the most active planetary ring. Fig. 1, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft, shows a strand of the F Ring that appears to be detached from the core of the ring as if pulled apart by unknown forces. Some ring scientists believe that repeated collisions between the F ring and a single small object may have given rise to this intriguing feature.

When Fig. 1 was taken, the Cassini probe was gliding below the ring’s plane, at a distance of approximately 1.9 million km from Saturn, on 19 October 2013.

References:

NASA
Encyclopedia Britannica
Wikipedia

 
Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist
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