Rings Of Jupiter and Other Planets
Date: Prior to 1993
What are the rings of Jupiter composed of?
Jupiter's rings are made up of fine dust particles (average size
a few microns (that is tiny!), in contrast to Saturn's rings, which are made
up of mostly pebble-to-boulder size objects). And unlike Saturn's rings
(which are composed primarily of ice), Jupiter's rings are made of rocky
material (in powdered form). It appears that this ring material escapes after
some time and so must be continually replenished, possibly from meteor
bombardment of some of Jupiter's moons or perhaps from material ejected by
volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.
Four of the planets of our solar system -- Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, and Neptune -- have rings. These are the so-called "gas giants", and
it is probably no accident that only these planets have rings.
It used to be thought that only Saturn had rings until the
Voyager missions gave us our first close-up views of the other gas giants.
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Update: June 2012