Rings of Uranus

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The planet Uranus has a system of ring intermediate in complexity between the more extensive set around Saturn and the simpler systems around Jupiter and Neptune. The rings of Uranus were discovered on March 10, 1977, by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. More than 200 years ago, William Herschel also reported observing rings, but modern astronomers are skeptical that he could have actually seen them, as they are very dark and faint. Two additional rings were discovered in 1986 in images taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, and two outer rings were found in 2003–2005 in Hubble Space Telescope photos.

the Uranian ring system is known to consist of 13 distinct rings. In the order of increasing distance from the planet they are designated 1986U2R/ζ, 6, 5, 4, α, β, η, γ, δ, λ, ε, ν and μ. Their radii range from about 38,000 km for the 1986U2R/ζ ring to about 98,000 km for the μ ring. Additional faint dust bands and incomplete arcs may exist between the main rings. The rings are extremely dark—the Bond albedo of the rings' particles does not exceed 2%. They are probably composed of water ice with the addition of some dark radiation-processed organics.

The majority of Uranus's rings are opaque and only a few kilometers wide. The ring system contains little dust overall; it consists mostly of large bodies 0.2–20 m in diameter. However, some rings are optically thin: the broad and faint...
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