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49 votes

Is it possible for planetary rings to be perpendicular (or near perpendicular) to the planet's orbit around the host star?

Yes, the plane of the rings of Uranus are at about 98 degrees to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. This means that the ring system looks as in your picture twice per orbit. As the planet orbits ...
ProfRob's user avatar
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30 votes

Is it possible for planetary rings to be perpendicular (or near perpendicular) to the planet's orbit around the host star?

I posted a few animations, just to make sure :) The image is hopefully obviously not to scale. This is possible: and is, in fact, not far from what Uranus is doing. The animation above was produced ...
Jyrki Lahtonen's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Which Saturn satellite passes closest to Saturn's rings and at what distance?

Pan, Daphnis, and various other moonlets, I would argue, are inside the rings. If you explicitly discount the Encke gap (which Pan orbits in) and the Keeler gap (which Daphnis orbits in) as being ...
Ingolifs's user avatar
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14 votes

Do/Can Ringed Stars Exist?

In a sense, that is what a circumstellar disk is. Source: European Southern Observatory (ESO) These are usually most noticeable around young stars as protoplanetary disks, disks that form planets. ...
called2voyage's user avatar
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13 votes

Which star did Uranus occult in 1977 when the planet's rings were discovered?

From wikipedia, the rings of uranus The definitive discovery of the Uranian Rings [...] use[d] the occultation of the star SAO 158687[...] The star SAO 158687, also cataloged as HD 128598 is a ...
James K's user avatar
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13 votes

Hypothetically, would we be able to see the moon from Saturn's North Pole?

First of all, at that distance seeing the Moon and seeing the Earth amounts to the same thing. At its closest, Saturn is around 3000 times as far from Earth as the Moon is, so viewed from Saturn, the ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
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12 votes
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Hypothetically, would we be able to see the moon from Saturn's North Pole?

Yes, if you observe Earth and the Moon at a favorable time. Near a Saturn summer solstice, e.g. between 2012 and 2022, Earth appears well above the horizon from Saturn's north pole. If the planet body ...
Mike G's user avatar
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11 votes

Could a cross-ringed planet exist?

While such a scenario would be unlikely, all you'd need is an existing ring and an icy moon to enter inside the Roche limit at a measurably different inclination. I wouldn't want to guess how long a ...
userLTK's user avatar
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11 votes
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Can planetary rings form as a result of solidifed lava thrown up by volcanoes on the surface of small rocky moons/planets?

This doesn't seem to occur in our solar system. The most volcanic body, Io, does create a trail of gas around its orbit of Jupiter, but has no ringlike structure of its own. As uhoh notes, orbital ...
James K's user avatar
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10 votes
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Size of Saturn's ring material

The vast majority of the particles in Saturn's rings are small, on the order of $\sim10^{-1}$ m or lower. The columnar number density, according to data from Voyager 1 and Earth-based observations, ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
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9 votes
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Why Only Saturn Has Visible Rings

By "visible to the naked eye", I take it you mean "visible from Earth with a small telescope". Saturn's rings are largely water ice, and so they reflect more sunlight back to us. Jupiter's rings, ...
hartacus's user avatar
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9 votes
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Is there, in fact, any close-up photography of Saturn's rings, showing individual pebbles/rocks?

The rings are about 3% solid in the densest parts, but this translates to a separation between 30cm particles of about 1metre. There are no images Because approaching the dense part of the rings would ...
James K's user avatar
  • 123k
9 votes

Hypothetically, would we be able to see the moon from Saturn's North Pole?

For these kind of questions, you might want to use Stellarium, a free open source planetarium. You can specify the location of the observer on many celestial bodies, including Saturn. Any time ...
Eric Duminil's user avatar
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8 votes
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Can there be elliptical rings around a planet?

Short answer: no. Long answer: There are many collisions within ring systems, and collisions always work, over time, to push orbits to a circular shape (or destroy the rings). Any deviations tend to ...
Florin Andrei's user avatar
7 votes

Can Earth have a ring?

Most planets don't have rings. The ring region is inside the Roche limit which is quite close to the planet. A ring system outside the Roche limit needs to be either very faint or, it would over ...
userLTK's user avatar
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7 votes
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Do planetary rings always follow rotational axis?

Nearly always. The asymmetric gravity of a spinning (and hence oblate) planet will induce tides that can pull small moons and ring particles into orbit around its equator in a few million years. If ...
James K's user avatar
  • 123k
7 votes
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Can an asteroid have rings?

The simple answer is yes, an asteroid can have rings. The current known example is 10199 Chariklo, whose rings were discovered in 2014 (see Braga-Ribas et al. (2014)). It actually has two rings, at ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 36.6k
6 votes
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Why are some universal entities round and others are flat?

I tend to see it as simply a consequence of symmetry, symmetry breaking and the balance between them. The simplest is the spherical symmetry where every direction are the same, as good as another one (...
lucvoo's user avatar
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6 votes
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Could a cross-ringed planet exist?

The answer is a bit more complex than what userLTK presents. Tides play a huge role for the orientation of the rings. If the ring system has an inclination relative towards the planet, then ...
AtmosphericPrisonEscape's user avatar
6 votes

How do a planet's moons and a planet's rings interact?

First, there are different types of rings. Using saturn as an example: there are icy particles, dust bands and more. These interact differently if they were to hit a moon, for example enceladus. ...
Charlotte's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Can Jupiter's rings be seen with the naked eye by an astronaut nearby? How difficult would it be?

Here is an answer based on photometric arguments: The astronaut probably would not be able to see the rings, but it would be worth a try. I would recommend the astronaut float somewhere at a distance ...
giardia's user avatar
  • 2,088
6 votes
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What are those blobs in each of the two bright rings of Neptune shown in the new JWST image?

This photo captures 7 of the 14 moons of Neptune. The ones you pointed out are Despina on the right and Galatea on the left as illustrated by this NASA website. Now the reason why they seem to ...
DialFrost's user avatar
  • 2,115
5 votes

Why Earth does not have rings?

Earth does have rings! Not icy ones like Saturn, but ones made up mostly of solid masses a few meters across. A relatively sharp ring is centred on geostationary orbit. A rather more diffuse one (...
Steve Linton's user avatar
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5 votes
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Are the radial spokes in Saturn's rings reliably visible via ground-based telescopes

Bryan (2007) gives a number of reasons why O'Meara's discovery was largely discounted: As you stated, the behavior was entirely inconsistent with Keplerian predictions of motion. While O'Meara was ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 36.6k
5 votes
Accepted

Can planetary rings distort the shape of a planet?

Question: Could the gravitational force of Earthly rings distort the Earth to make it more oval shaped at the equator? Short Answer: Yes This makes sense to me as when the moon is whole, all the mass ...
Kavin Ishwaran's user avatar
5 votes

Can planetary rings distort the shape of a planet?

The gravitational field near the center of a thin narrow ring of mass, $M_r$, and radius, $R_r$, is $H_z = -GM_rz/{(z^2+R_r^2)^{3/2}}$ for the z-directed field on the z-axis. Near the center, $(z,r) \...
Roger Wood's user avatar
  • 1,359
4 votes

How thick can planetary rings be?

There is an explanation for why rings flatten out here. The general mechanism is that particles collide, and gets a very uniform momentum. Thus, any set-up giving unusually thick rings is in essence "...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
4 votes

Why are some universal entities round and others are flat?

Preliminary note: there is a continuity of more or less flattened shapes. No macroscopic objects are really spherical, or really flat. Take Jupiter: it has a rotation period around its axis of 10 ...
mtewes's user avatar
  • 517
4 votes
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Can CME destroy planetary rings?

Yes it can reach both Saturn and Jupiter. But it's not powerful enough to remove their rings. Even Earth's radiation belts don't get blown away. Edit: Jupiter's magnetic field is $\approx 770 \mu T$ (...
George's user avatar
  • 334

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