Wednesday, October 7, 2009
New Ring Discovered Around Saturn
A new ring of tiny dust particles has been discovered 8 million miles from Saturn's surface. The halo is approximately 50 times farther from Saturn than the other rings, and scientists believe it's the product of debris from small impacts on Saturn's moon Phoebe. Experts suggest the dust from the impacts then migrated toward the planet and was picked up by another of Saturn's moons, Iapetus. "The particles smack Iapetus like bugs on a windshield," explained a University of Virginia professor, adding that the discovery explains Iapetus' two-tone nature. The newly found disc is distinct not only in its size and distance, but also its angle: It is tilted 27 degrees to the plane encompassing Saturn's other rings, which is likely due to Phoebe's inclined path around the planet.