Saturn's rings

The rings around saturn are it's most distinguishing feature. How they formed is still somewhat contested and there a number of theories. They include former moons being torn apart to rings being present when the planet formed.


The rings of saturn as seen by the Cassini spacecraft. image: NASA/wikipedia

Curiously there is another enormous feint ring structure around saturn that is only visible in infra red. 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).

Saturn's Largest Ring

Artist impression of the super ring around saturn. image: NASA/JPL Spitzer telescope.

It is thought that another moon around saturn is causing this 'trail' of debris to form this ring.