Discovery and exploration: Scientists found the rings of Uranus in 1977 utilizing NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory. The flying telescope noticed Uranus throughout a stellar occultation, when it handed in entrance of a distant star. Small dips in starlight earlier than and after Uranus transited the star revealed a hoop system.
Our solely up-close view of Uranus’ rings got here from the Voyager 2 spacecraft, which handed the planet in 1986. Scientists now observe Uranus’ rings with each floor and space-based telescopes.
Construction: Uranus has 13 recognized rings: Ten slender rings interspersed with three broad, diffuse rings. The rings are named in line with labels used of their discovery papers, making a mishmash of numbers and Greek letters. Ranging from the planet, the internal rings are named 6, 5, 4, α (Alpha), β (Beta), η (Eta), γ (Gamma), δ (Delta), λ (Lambda), and ε (Epsilon). The diffuse rings are named ζ (Zeta), ν (Nu), and μ (Mu).
Ring moons: Uranus’ moons are named after characters from the performs of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. The internal moons are tightly packed amongst the rings, with simulations suggesting they often collide with each other like their Shakespearean namesakes.
The one internal moon Voyager 2 managed to picture in any element was Puck, a 150-kilometer-wide (93-mile-wide) world that orbits simply contained in the Mu ring on the outskirts of the ring system.