A graduate student, Edward Molter, was taking Uranus' readings of the heat when he was surprised to see the gleam of his rings.
"I was just trying to imagine the planet as best I could and saw the rings. It was incredible." Edward Molter, a graduate student, told Phys.org.
Unlike Saturn, the rings of Uranus are only visible through the largest telescopes. They are so hard to see that they were only discovered in 1977. This new vision of warmth helps us to better understand the planet.
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Unlike Saturn, the rings of Uranus are visible only in the largest telescopes. They are so hard to see that they were only discovered in 1977.
Despite this, they show a surprising glow in new heat images, making them more visible than before. The images were taken by two large telescopes in the Chilean deserts – the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT).
New ring temperature readings
These images allowed a team to measure the temperature of Uranus rings for the first time. They showed a cool 77 Kelvin, or 77 degrees above absolute zero. This is the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen and the equivalent of 320 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
"Saturn's rings, mostly icy, are wide, bright and have a particle size range, from micron-sized dust in the innermost D-ring to up to tens of meters in the main rings," said the astronomy professor UC Berkeley, Imke de Pater. .org. "The small final is missing in the main rings of Uranus, the brightest ring, the epsilon, is composed of rocks the size of golf balls and larger."
The rings could have been ancient asteroids that were captured by the planet's gravity, moons that collided with each other, or remnants remnants of formation time, about 4.5 billion years ago.
The new findings were published this week O Astronomical Journal.