Jovian Hula

There are still a lot of people who don’t realise that Jupiter has rings. But here they are, illuminated in their full glory!

This is an image of a solar eclipse, as it would be seen from the largest of Earth’s siblings. Jupiter’s silhouette is illuminated here by sunlight scattering off the fine dust particles in its upper atmosphere. Similar tiny dust grains make up Jupiter’s fine ring system (more of a hula hoop than a ring system, really), also lit up by sunlight in the image as captured by the Galileo probe. The dust that makes up those rings is caused by impacts on Jupiters expansive family of moons. A collision throws dust up off the moon’s surface, before being captured by Jupiter’s gravity (hill spheres, remember?). It seems safe to say by now that most giant planets which aren’t too close to their parent stars will probably have ring systems. Being as all four of the gas giants in our solar system have rings, it seems a fairly safe bet!

(Top of the hat to APOD for a gorgeous image which I’d somehow never seen before!)

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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