Astronomers Get First Look At Uranus's Rings As They Swing Edge-on To Earth
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI Institute))
"The outermost ring is not visible in our infrared images," said de Pater's co-author, Heidi B. Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "This ring is very blue, and therefore harder to see in the infrared. We may detect it when the rings are fully edge-on and when we can observe it for several hours."
With further analysis of the Hubble data, astronomer Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute hopes to detect some of the small moons, and perhaps some not seen before, that shepherd the debris into distinct rings.
Until Voyager flew by in January 1986, the rings were only known from the way they temporarily blocked the light of stars passing behind Uranus. Earth-based images have been too blurry until recently, with the advent of Keck adaptive optics and the Advanced Camera for Surveys of the Hubble telescope.
by University of California - Berkeley