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Does Uranus Have Any Rings?

does-uransu-have-rings

ANSWER:

Uranus DOES have rings.

More Info: Uranus has thirteen confirmed rings.  It is the second planet discovered to have a ring system.  The rings were first discovered in 1977, when two teams of scientists observed the blue giant passing a star.  They noticed that as the planet passed, the star’s light flickered five times before passing behind the planet; this signaled that something else was blocking the view of the star.  The scientists concluded that Uranus must have five rings that were obstructing light from the star.  The 1986 Voyager II mission, as well as images from the Hubble Telescope, confirmed that Uranus has a total of thirteen rings.

Uranus Rings

The first scientific team to observe and publish the news of the rings of Uranus named them Alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon in order of proximity to the planet. Following Voyager II’s mission, the remainder of the rings were named 1986U2R, 6, 5, 4, Alpha, Beta, Eta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Epsilon, Nu and Mu, in order of proximity to the planet.

Difficulties in Viewing the Rings and Doubts of Their Existence

Obstacles to viewing the rings can make you question their existence.  For example, Uranus’ ring system is not always documented.  Photographs of Uranus often show the planet without its rings; if you viewed pictures that lacked rings, you might question their existence.  The rings’ composition also make it difficult for you to view them.  Unlike Saturn’s rings, which are luminous and thick, Uranus’ rings are dark and thin.  Scientists are unsure of the exact composition of the rings, but they are made of small, dark material, which makes them dim and therefore difficult to see without a powerful telescope.  The rings are also only a few miles wide, making them thin and faint.  But even with viewing difficulty, rings on Uranus do exist.

 

Resources

“Solar System Exploration: Planets: Uranus: Overview.” NASA Solar System Exploration: Planets: Uranus: Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Uranus>.

“Uranus — The Magician.” Purdue. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <http://www.physics.purdue.edu/astr263l/SStour/uranus.html>.

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