Photos of the Sun

Uranus Rings The Sun and the giant planets

Uranus Rings The Sun and the giant planets

Yes, it looks like Saturn, but Saturn is only one of the four giant planets ringed in our Solar System. While Saturn has the brightest rings, this system of rings and moons actually belongs to the planet Uranus, photographed here in quasi-infrared light by the Antu telescope, at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile .

Since the methane lace atmosphere of the gas giant Uranus absorbs sunlight at near-infrared wavelengths, the planet appears substantially obscured, improving the contrast between those, otherwise, a relatively bright planet and relatively rings dim

In fact, it is impossible to see the thin rings of Uranus in visible light with ground telescopes and they were not discovered until 1977, when careful astronomers noticed the hitherto unknown rings blocking the light of the background stars.

It is believed that the rings are less than 100 million years old and that they may have been formed by the collision of a small moon with a comet or an asteroid-like object. With moons baptized as the characters in Shakespeare's plays, the distant ringed world, Uranus, was last visited in 1986 by the Voyager 2 probe.

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Saturn at nightStains in Neptune
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