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Largest ring discovered around Saturn

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered a new ring around the planet Saturn. The ring is larger than any of the other known rings around Saturn.
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1 of 6 Andy Smith/ZDNet
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered a new ring which is larger than the other previously known rings around Saturn. It has never been discovered before because it is made up of dust and ice particles that are so far apart - if you were in the middle of the ring, you wouldn't know it, according to NASA. Spitzer was able to sense the dust since cool objects glow in infrared or thermal radiation.

The edge of the ring closest to Saturn is about 3.7 million miles from the planet. It is about 7.4 million miles wide and about 20 times as thick as the diameter of Saturn. It lies on a 27-degree angle from the planet and could hold about 1 billion Earths.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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This image shows the size of Saturn compared to the size of the ring.

Spitzer image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Virginia
Hubble image of Saturn credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

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The strange looking moon Phoebe is the likely source of material for the ring.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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Here's a slice of the ring as seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Spitzer image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Virginia

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This image shows the size and location of the new ring which orbits outside of Saturn's previously known rings. Phoebe which orbits inside the ring is the likely source of material for it. The newly found ring could be the explanation for the two-toned moon Iapetus.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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The moon Iapetus, recently renamed Cassini Regio, was discovered in 1671 by Giovanni Cassini who later found that the the moon has a dark side. Scientists have had no explanation of this until now. Cassini Regio moves in the opposite direction as the new ring and gets pelted by dark material - like bugs on a windshield, according to NASA.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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