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Discovery of the First Moon with a Ring System: Scientists sight disk of debris around the moon Rhea

07.03.2008
The most famous feature of the planet Saturn are its rings: these are visible from the earth using just a simple telescope.

This ring system is the most distinctive of the entire solar system and consists mostly of dust, gas, rock and ice particles. Saturn is not the only planet in our solar system with rings: Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also have ring systems – these are however much smaller and darker.

An international team of scientists of which Prof. Joachim Saur from the Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology of the University of Cologne is also a member, have made an amazing discovery: from observations made from the spacecraft Cassini, the scientists have come to the conclusion that the Saturn moon Rhea is encircled by a disk consisting of material which may comprise a ring system.

This would mean that Rhea is the only known moon with a ring system! The material of the disk comprises debris and ice particles, some as large as a meter in size.

This discovery means that Saturn, the so-called lord of the rings, has gained a small companion with rings or a disk. These results have been published in a current edition of the magazine Science.

Patrick Honecker | alfa
Further information:
http://www.geophysik.uni-koeln.de/aktuelles/index.html

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