Rings of Uranus

Uranus_2001-2007

Credit: Courtesy W. M. Keck Observatory

A series of infrared images between 2001 and 2007 taken from the Keck observatory in Hawaii showing the change in appearance of the Uranus ring system as seen from Earth.

The ring system is very faint and difficult to see at optical wavelength but is more obvious at near infrared.

There are known to be 13 individual rings extending out to 200,000km in diameter.

The rings are believed to comprise mainly water ice and are relatively young having thought to have formed no more than 600 million years ago as a result of collosions between a number of moons that once orbited around the planet.

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The dark side of Uranus

Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

Image taken by the Voyager 2 space probe as it went past the planet on 24th January 1986.

Uranus is over 50,000km in diameter and has an orbit of approximately 2.9 billion km from the Sun, (20 times further away as the Earth).