The Ring System of Uranus: Flat as a Pancake, Sprinkled with Dust

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We present a high quality image of the uranian ring system, obtained in July 2004 at 2.2 {micro}m with the adaptive optics camera NIRC2 on the Keck II telescope. Using these data, we report the first ground-based image of the ring 1986U2R, seen only once before by the Voyager spacecraft. We show that this ring extends inward to {approx} 7000 km above the Uranus cloud deck. Its VIF (total vertically integrated I/F) is {approx} 100 m. We further detected narrow sheets of dust in between the {delta} and {epsilon} rings, and in between rings 4 and {alpha}, with a VIF ... continued below

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de Pater, I; Gibbard, S G & Hammel, H B February 2, 2005.

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We present a high quality image of the uranian ring system, obtained in July 2004 at 2.2 {micro}m with the adaptive optics camera NIRC2 on the Keck II telescope. Using these data, we report the first ground-based image of the ring 1986U2R, seen only once before by the Voyager spacecraft. We show that this ring extends inward to {approx} 7000 km above the Uranus cloud deck. Its VIF (total vertically integrated I/F) is {approx} 100 m. We further detected narrow sheets of dust in between the {delta} and {epsilon} rings, and in between rings 4 and {alpha}, with a VIF of 14 and 20 m, respectively. Surprisingly, we find that the particles in Uranus' 9 main rings are distributed within a mono-layer, rather than the usually adopted poly-layer model. We come to this conclusion via a comparison of the VIF as derived from our 2003 data at a ring opening angle B {approx} 18{sup o} (from Gibbard et al. 2004) with those derived in this paper at B {approx} 11{sup o}. We show that the VIF increases approximately as 1/sinB at the ring ansae, but is independent of sinB in front of the disk. This combination of factors can only be explained if the particles in Uranus' rings are distributed in a mono-layer, a configuration which makes the uranian system unique amongst the giant planets.

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PDF-file: 33 pages; size: 0.5 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Icarus; Journal Volume: 180; Journal Issue: 1

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JRNL-211287
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 875942
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc876067

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 2, 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 4:45 p.m.

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de Pater, I; Gibbard, S G & Hammel, H B. The Ring System of Uranus: Flat as a Pancake, Sprinkled with Dust, article, February 2, 2005; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc876067/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.