Saturn’s Largest Ring Discovered

A new ring was discovered around Saturn by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope:

The new belt lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system, with an orbit tilted 27 degrees from the main ring plane. The bulk of its material starts about six million kilometers (3.7 million miles) away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers (7.4 million miles). It would take about one billion Earths stacked together to fill the voluminous ring. One of Saturn’s farthest moons, Phoebe, circles within the newfound ring, and is likely the source of its material.

Saturn's Largest Ring

It’s massive! The discover of this ring helps explain why one of Saturn’s moons, Iapetus, is darker on one side: it’s plowing through the dust in this ring.

When I hear about a story like this I’m always astounded at how much we don’t already know about our solar system. It really makes me appreciate the enormous scale of the universe when within the gravitational pull of our little star in one of the arms of our galaxy, which is just another of the billions of galaxies in the observable universe, we are constantly making new and surprising discoveries.

Milky Way Galaxy Sun

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2 Responses to “Saturn’s Largest Ring Discovered”


  1. 1 Global Villager October 11, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    It is truly hard to wrap my head around the scale of the universe, wow!

  2. 2 Nite Sky Girl Astronomy Blog October 22, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I follow the Cassini mission and it’s amazing they can still discover things when mankind has explored every concept and design of the planet. Great Story enjoyed it.


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