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Mathe Forum Schule und Studenten
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The rings of Saturn are the most extensive planetary ring system of any planet in the Solar System. They consist of countless small particles, ranging from μm to m in size, that orbit about Saturn. The ring particles are made almost entirely of water ice, with a trace component of rocky material. There is still no consensus as to their mechanism of formation; some features of the rings suggest a relatively recent origin, but theoretical models indicate they are likely to have formed early in the Solar System's history.

Although reflection from the rings increases Saturn's brightness, they are not visible from Earth with unaided vision. In 1610, the year after Galileo Galilei turned a telescope to the sky, he became the first person to observe Saturn's rings, though he could not see them well enough to discern their true nature. In 1655, Christiaan Huygens was the first person to describe them as a disk surrounding Saturn. Although many people think of Saturn's rings as being made up of a series of tiny ringlets (a concept that goes back to Laplace), true gaps are few. It is more correct to think of the rings as an annular disk with concentric local maxima and minimain density and brightness. On the scale of the clumps within the rings there is much empty space.

The rings have numerous gaps where particle density drops sharply: two opened by known moons embedded within them, and many others at locations of known destabilizing orbital resonances with Saturn's moons. Other gaps remain unexplained. Stabilizing resonances, on the other hand, are responsible for the longevity of several rings, such as the Titan Ringlet and the G Ring.

Name(1) Distance from Saturn's
center (km)(2)
Width (km)(2) Named after
D Ring 66,900   –  74,510 7,500
C Ring 74,658   –   92,000 17,500
B Ring 92,000   –  117,580 25,500
Cassini Division 117,580   –   122,170 4,700 Giovanni Cassini
A Ring 122,170   –   136,775 14,600
Roche Division 136,775   –   139,380 2,600 Édouard Roche
F Ring 140,180 (3) 30   –  500
Janus/Epimetheus Ring(4) 149,000   –  154,000 5,000 Janus and Epimetheus
G Ring 166,000   –  175,000 9,000
Methone Ring Arc(4) 194,230 ? Methone
Anthe Ring Arc(4) 197,665 ? Anthe
Pallene Ring(4) 211,000   –  213,500 2,500 Pallene
E Ring 180,000   –  480,000 300,000
Phoebe Ring ~4,000,000 – >13,000,000 Phoebe  
Name(1) Distance from Saturn's
center (km)(2)
Width (km)(2) Named after
Colombo Gap 77,870 (3) 150 Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo
Titan Ringlet 77,870 (3) 25 Titan, moon of Saturn
Maxwell Gap 87,491 (3) 270 James Clerk Maxwell
Maxwell Ringlet 87,491 (3) 64 James Clerk Maxwell
Bond Gap 88,700 (3) 30 William Cranch Bond and George Phillips Bond
1.470RS Ringlet 88,716 (3) 16 its radius
1.495RS Ringlet 90,171 (3) 62 its radius
Dawes Gap 90,210 (3) 20 William Rutter Dawes
Name(1) Distance from Saturn's
center (km)(2)
Width (km)(2) Named after
Huygens Gap 117,680 (3) 285–400 Christiaan Huygens
Huygens Ringlet 117,848 (3) ~17 Christiaan Huygens
Herschel Gap 118,234 (3) 102 William Herschel
Russell Gap 118,614 (3) 33 Henry Norris Russell
Jeffreys Gap 118,950 (3) 38 Harold Jeffreys
Kuiper Gap 119,405 (3) 3 Gerard Kuiper
Laplace Gap 119,967 (3) 238 Pierre-Simon Laplace
Bessel Gap 120,241 (3) 10 Friedrich Bessel
Barnard Gap 120,312 (3) 13 Edward Emerson Barnard
Name(1) Distance from Saturn's
center (km)(2)
Width (km)(2) Named after
Encke Gap 133,589 (3) 325 Johann Encke
Keeler Gap 136,505 (3) 35 James Keeler

  • Source:
  • Galileo Galilei – the first person to observe Saturn's rings, in 1610
  • Christiaan Huygens – the first person to propose that there was a ring surrounding Saturn, in 1655
  • Giovanni Cassini – discovered the separation between the A and B rings (the Cassini Division), in 1675
  • Édouard Roche – French astronomer who described how a satellite that comes within the Roche limit of Saturn could break up and form the rings
piglix posted in Astronomy by Galactic Guru
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