Astronomy Answers
Universe Family Tree: Ring

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Planetary System
0.1 AE
200,000 km
the Earth System

In our Solar System, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have one or more rings around them. The rings of Saturn are wide and were recognized already in the 17th century by Dutchman Christiaan Huygens. The rings of the other planets are narrow and hard to see, and were discovered only after 1977. The rings are usually flat and at a fixed distance from the planet. They are always straight above the equator of the planet.

The rings are made of dust and stones from microscopic size to a few meters in size, which each orbit around the planet in their own orbit. Particles that are further from the planet take longer to orbit around the planet, just like the moons of the planet, or like the planets around the Sun. The rings are not solid and don't rotate like a record or a CD.


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Last updated: 2016−02−07