The Physics Factbook™
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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|Bibliographic Entry||Result |
|Moche, Dinah. Astronomy. New York: Wiley, 1993: 244.||"Although the brightest rings are 65,000 km wide, they are only one to three km thick."||1000–3000 m|
|"Saturn." The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 1996: 152.||"They vary in thickness from about 200 to 3000 meters."||200–3000 m|
|Hunt, Gary. Saturn. Mitchell Beazley, 1982: 31.||"It now appears that the true value is between 100 and 150 meters."||100–150 m|
|Illingworth, Valerie. The Facts on File Dictionary of Astronomy. New York: Laurence Urdang, 1979: 291.||"Now known to consist of numerous individual particles, each a satellite of Saturn, the rings are probably only one to five km thick."||1000–5000 m|
|Benton, Julius. "The Vanishing Rings of Saturn." Astronomy. 23 (June 1995), 70.||"The rings are very wide, about 170,000 miles across, but only about a mile thick."||1600 m|
It is obvious from the preceding information that there is no definite agreementon the thickness of Saturn's rings. However, there may be a simple explanationfor this. Today, everyone will agree that several rings surround Saturn, eachwith different dimensions. Thus, unless specifically stated by the author, thereader remains uncertain when it comes to deciding which ring(s) the author isdescribing the thickness of.
There are three main rings that surround Saturn at its equator. The CassiniDivision, named in honor of G. D. Cassini separates the brightest two. The thirdring, better known as the Crepe or Dusky Ring, is closer in to the planet andcan be described as semi-transparent.
As technology has progressed, new rings surrounding Saturn have been found.Pioneer 11 has detected another ring 3,600 m beyond the outer edge of one of themain rings, once considered to be the outer ring of Saturn. The Voyagers havealso discovered two more rings, both having been considered to be excessivelytenuous.
Overall, it can be said that the seven rings of Saturn consist of thousandsof narrow ringlets, where each ringlet is made up of billions of pieces of ice.These pieces range from ice particles that are the size of dust to chunks of icethat measure more than three meters in diameter.
As a result of all these differences, no one value for the thickness of Saturn'srings can be obtained from these sources. However, if an estimate were to be made,one would consult the most recent sources and come to the conclusion that thethickness of Saturn's rings range anywhere from 200 to 3000 meters.
Zahid Qureshi -- 1998
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