Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
April 30, 1996
Uranus' Ring System
Credit: Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Lab) and NASA
Explanation: The rings of Uranus are thin, narrow, and dark compared to other planetary ring systems. Brightened artificially by computer, the ring particles reflect as little light as charcoal, although they are really made of ice chucks darkened by rock. This false-colour, infrared picture from the Hubble Space Telescope taken in July 1995 shows the rings in conjunction to the planet. The infrared light allows one to see detail in different layers of Uranus' atmosphere, which has been digitally enhanced with false colour. Three other planets in our Solar System are known to have rings: Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Four of Uranus' moons are visible outside the ring plane. The rings of Uranus were discovered from ground-based observations in 1977.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.