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Astronomers Predict That Pluto Has A Ring
MIT Technology Review ^ | 08-08-2011 | Staff

Posted on 08/08/2011 6:20:20 AM PDT by Red Badger

Dust from Pluto's satellites ought to form a faint ring around the dwarf planet, according to new calculations

Until recently, the only ring in the Solar System was Saturn's. But in 1960s and 70s, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus and Neptune. Meanwhile, the Voyager 1spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter's ring.

To be sure, these rings are much less impressive than Saturn's but the implications are clear: rings seem much more common than astronomers once thought. Perhaps they are even the norm.

And that raises an interesting question: could Pluto possibly have a ring?

The observational evidence is that Pluto does not have a ring. The best images are from the Hubble Space Telescope and they show nothing.

But today, Pryscilla Maria Pires dos Santos and pals at UNESP-São Paulo State University in Brazil say that Pluto ought to have a ring after all, but one that is too faint for Hubble to spot.

Their conclusion comes from modelling the way that micrometeorite impacts on Pluto's satellites, Nix and Hydra, ought to send dust into orbit about the dwarf planet.

This dust inevitably spirals into Pluto and its satellites because of its interaction with the solar wind. In this way, the dust is removed from orbit.

But that doesn't mean it can't form a ring. The important question is whether the dust can be replaced as quickly as it is removed.

Pires dos Santos and co calculate that the dust initially forms a ring about 16,000 km wide, encompassing the orbits of both Nix and Hydra. However, the solar wind then removes about 50 per cent of the dust within a year.

However, that still leaves enough to form a ring, albeit it an extremely faint one. "A tenuous ring...can be maintained by the dust particles released from the surfaces of Nix and Hydra," say Pires dos Santos and co.

They calculate that its transparency (or optical depth) has a value of 10^-11. By comparison, the main ring of Uranus has a transparency of between 0.5 and 2.5.

Hubble ought to be able to to see a ring around Pluto with a transparency of about 10^-5 so it's no surprise that it hasn't seen the ring that the Brazilian team predict. There's no way to see such a ring directly from Earth.

Fortunately, there is a way to settle the matter.

The New Horizons spacecraft is currently on its way to Pluto, equipped not with a camera capable of seeing the ring but with a dust counter that should do the trick instead. If this probe finds itself in the lightest of dust clouds when it arrives on 14 July 2015, we'll finally know for sure.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1108.0712: Small Particles In Pluto's Environment: Effects Of The Solar Radiation Pressure


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: pluto; xplanets

If it has a ring it must be a planet! Re-instate Pluto's Planetary Status NOW!.............

1 posted on 08/08/2011 6:20:26 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Congratulations.
My wishes for a long , happy marriage.


2 posted on 08/08/2011 6:23:23 AM PDT by Carl LaFong (Experts say experts should be ignored.)
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To: Red Badger
Pluto Has A Ring

He and Goofy are engaged?

3 posted on 08/08/2011 6:23:49 AM PDT by massmike (Massachusetts:Stopped hanging witches;started electing Kennedys.Coincidence?)
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To: Red Badger

Eh. Who cares, it’s not a planet, right? If it was we’d have 11 or 12 planets now but that’s too inconvenient.


4 posted on 08/08/2011 6:26:38 AM PDT by Peter from Rutland
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To: Red Badger
By comparison, the main ring of Uranus has a transparency of between 0.5 and 2.5.

That's getting personal.

5 posted on 08/08/2011 6:27:37 AM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham

A ring around Uranus? Well I’ll be!!!!


6 posted on 08/08/2011 6:34:30 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: Red Badger

We’ll know in a couple of years.

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/


7 posted on 08/08/2011 6:42:12 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin)
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To: KevinDavis

Ping


8 posted on 08/08/2011 6:51:04 AM PDT by Army Air Corps (Four fried chickens and a coke)
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To: Red Badger
...the main ring of Uranus has a transparency of between 0.5 and 2.5.

Hey, now!

9 posted on 08/08/2011 7:01:13 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: KevinDavis; annie laurie; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Mmogamer; ...
Note: this topic is from 8/08/2011. Thanks Red Badger.
 
X-Planets
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic · subscribe ·
Google news searches: exoplanet · exosolar · extrasolar ·

10 posted on 07/16/2012 7:01:36 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: brytlea; cripplecreek; decimon; bigheadfred; KoRn; Grammy; married21; steelyourfaith; Mmogamer; ...
Note: this topic is from 8/08/2011. Thanks Red Badger. Another 'extra, extra' to the APoD list.

11 posted on 07/16/2012 7:01:36 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Red Badger

This little planetoid has a lot of interesting things about it, it’s like a mini-Saturnian system.


12 posted on 07/17/2012 4:49:39 AM PDT by Brett66 (Where government advances, and it advances relentlessly , freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: Red Badger
the main ring of Uranus has a transparency of between 0.5 and 2.5.


13 posted on 07/17/2012 4:56:52 AM PDT by Future Snake Eater (CrossFit.com)
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To: Red Badger

So they’re using Hubble to get a view of Pluto, but the pictures leave much to be desired. I understand optics enough to understand how they could see so far away, but why couldn’t terrestrial multi-optic telescopes get a really clear view of Pluto from here? For that matter, why can’t Hubble or other high-powered scopes get better, closer, clearer views of planets in our solar system? It seems we’re creating scopes that can see farther and farther out, but we can’t get close-up, high-resolution images of plants in our own solar system.


14 posted on 07/17/2012 6:48:58 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: rarestia

They move.........


15 posted on 07/17/2012 7:38:44 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
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To: Red Badger
They move.........

I don't buy that as an excuse. I made a stepping motor from scratch using parts from Radio Shack and created a mobile scope platform for my 14" light bucket and recorded two hours of video focused on Mars' transit through a clear winter night sky. It cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 to build.

You can't tell me that terrestrial scopes and/or orbital scopes couldn't do the same thing on a much more precise scale.

16 posted on 07/17/2012 8:17:45 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: rarestia
So they’re using Hubble to get a view of Pluto, but the pictures leave much to be desired.

After several thousand years of civilization, they are the best images ever acquired.

Pluto is difficult to image because it is small, very far away, and light intensity follows the inverse square law.

17 posted on 07/17/2012 8:24:42 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: rarestia

Terrestrial scopes have atmosphere as a limiting factor.
Hubble has a different limitation, it’s moving at 7500 meters per second..............


18 posted on 07/17/2012 8:25:04 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
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To: Moonman62

Yeah, ya know I didn’t think about size. My apologies on that. Brain is a little fuzzy this morning.


19 posted on 07/17/2012 9:14:39 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: rarestia
Check out this baby. It will be able to resolve earth size planets around other stars.
20 posted on 07/17/2012 12:02:45 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Moonman62

200 INCH! Unreal... I ground my own 14” mirror from stock glass, and it took me a month. I can’t imagine how long it’ll take to grind that glass and then to transport it. Wow.


21 posted on 07/17/2012 12:08:47 PM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: Red Badger; SunkenCiv
Thank goodness New Horizons got off before Pluto was deplanitized.

Give us back our planet!

22 posted on 07/18/2012 5:55:26 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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