Wednesday, October 07, 2009

NASA discovers gigantic Saturn ring

Tim Sayhill sends in an article from Yahoo News that documents a startling discovery by the Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that the telescope has discovered the biggest but never-before-seen ring around the planet Saturn.

The ring is made up of a very thin amalgam of dust and ice crystals. Due to the size of the material that makes up the ring an the extremely thin distribution, the ring reflects very little visible light. However the Spitzer's infra-red telescope could detect the ring with ease.

The bulk of the ring material starts about 3.7 million miles from the planet and extends outward about another 7.4 million miles, making it one of Saturn's largest rings by a sizable margin.

NASA astronomers note that Saturn's moon Phoebe orbits within the ring and is believed to be the source of the material.

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