Saturn's E ring in ultraviolet light

Visible from Earth only at times of ring plane crossing, Saturn's tenuous E Ring was discovered during the 1966 crossings and imaged again in 1980. From these observations, its colour is known to be distinctively blue. The E Ring was captured in ultraviolet light for the first time in this image taken with HST's Wide Field and Planetary Camera on 9 August 1995. Five individual images taken with a broadband 3000 A filter were combined, amounting to a total exposure time of 2200 sec. Shorter exposure images were also obtained with blue, red and infrared filters in order to characterize the ring's color.

The peak brightness of the E Ring occurs at 3.9 Saturn radii (235,000km), coinciding with the orbit of Enceladus. In the HST images it can be traced out to a maximum distance of approximately 8 Rs (480,000km). The vertical thickness of the ring, on the other hand, is smallest at Enceladus' orbit, with the ring puffing up noticeably at larger distances to 15,000 km or more thick.


Phil Nicholson (Cornell University), Mark Showalter (NASA/ESA-Ames/Stanford) and NASA/ESA

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:11 August 1995, 21:00
Size:751 x 901 px

About the Object

Type:Solar System : Planet
Category:Solar System

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300 nm Hubble Space Telescope

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