Mammoth Ring Found Around Saturn

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2009 12:28 PM CDT
An artist's rendering released by NASA of the new Saturn ring. The inset shows an enlarged image of Saturn in infrared light.    (AP Photo/Artist's Rendering courtesy NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

(Newser) – Scientists have discovered a colossal ring around Saturn, the biggest planetary ring yet found. It's enormous even by solar system standards: Among the analogies being used to make it clear to our little earthly minds is that it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it. "This thing is just immense," one astronomer tells "If you look at just a small patch of it, you just see fuzziness."

One of Saturn's moons—Phoebe—orbits inside the ring, which astronomers say is composed of particles resulting from eons of collisions with asteroids and meteors, notes CNN. Astronomers had long speculated the ring existed but finally saw it using infrared technology. The discovery is laid out in the new Nature.

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