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Jupiter: Rings

Jupiter's Rings
This closeup of the ansa at a very high phase angle is highly compressed because Galileo was very close to the ring plane.
Jupiter's ring was discovered by Voyager 1 in a single image that was targeted specifically to search for a faint ring system. Subsequently, Voyager 2 was reprogrammed to take a more complete set of images. The ring is now known to be composed of three major components. The main ring is about 7000 km wide and has an abrupt outer boundary 129, 130 km from the center of the planet. The main ring encompasses the orbits of two small moons, Adrastea and Metis, which may act as the source for the dust that makes up most of the ring. At its inner edge the main ring merges gradually into the halo. The halo is a broad, faint torus of material about 20,000 km thick and extending halfway from the main ring down to the planet's cloudtops. Just outside the main ring is the broad and exceedingly faint gossamer ring, which extends out beyond the orbit of the moon Amalthea.

Unlike Saturn's intricate and complex ring patterns, Jupiter has a single ring that is almost uniform in its structure.

It is probably composed of dust particles less than 10 microns in diameter - about the size of cigarette smoke particles. It extends to an outer edge of about 129,000 kilometers (80,161 miles) from the center of the planet and inward to about 30,000 kilometers (18,642 miles). The origin of the ring is probably from micrometeorite bombardment of the tiny moons orbiting within the ring.

Jupiter's rings and moons exist within an intense radiation belt of electrons and ions trapped in the planet's magnetic field. These particles and fields comprise the jovian magnetosphere or magnetic environment, which extends 3 to 7 million kilometers (1.9 to 4.3 million miles) toward the Sun, and stretches in a windsock shape at least as far as Saturn's orbit - a distance of 750 million kilometers (466 million miles).

Jupiter's Rings
Ring Name: Halo
Distance*: 100,000 km
Width: 22,800 km
Thickness: 20,000 km

Ring Name: Main
Distance*: 122,800 km
Width: 6,400 km
Thickness: < 30 km
Mass: 1 x 1013 kg
Albedo: ~0.15

Ring Name: Gossamer (Inner)
Distance*: 129,200 km
Width: 52,200 km

Ring Name: Gossamer (Outer)
Distance*: 182,000 km
Width: 42,900 km

* The distance is measured from the planet center to the start of the ring.
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Last Updated: 04.04.05