The Rings Of Jupiter

An image of Jupiter with rings.

The Planet Jupiter

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun in the Solar System. It is the largest among all the planets. This planet is heavier than the sun and the rest of the planets. In addition, Jupiter is a giant gas planet. It mainly consists of hydrogen gas and helium. Helium makes a quarter its mass. Jupiter has an oblate spheroid shape because of its rapid rotation. Additionally, it is the third brightest planet in the sky at night after Venus and the Moon.

The Rings Of Jupiter

Jupiter has a system of rings known as Jovian ring system or the rings of Jupiter. The rings were first seen by Voyager 1 space probe in 1979. Later in 1990, the scientist called Galileo carried out his research and came up with a complete count of four rings.

The four Jupiter rings are the Main ring, Halo ring, Amalthea gossamer ring, and Thebe gossamer ring. The rings of Jupiter are composed of dust and are faint in appearance.

Classification Of Jupiter's rings

The classification of Jupiter rings depends on size, location, and quality of brightness. The thickest and innermost ring is the Halo Ring. The thin and relatively bright Main Ring follows it. The outermost, thick, and faint Gossamer Rings follow.

The Main Ring

The main ring is relatively thin, narrow, and the brightest among the rings of Jupiter. It has width of 6500km. The inner edge of the main ring remains unmarked by any satellite because it is located 122,500km from the earth.

The main ring’s brightness begins to reduce at 128,600km in forward-scattered light. This happens towards the Adrastean orbit. Jupiter’s brightness increases near the main ring’s center at 126,000km. However, a contrast appears to the inner boundary where the light fades slowly at 120,000km to 124,000km.

The Halo Ring

The Halo ring is vertically thicker and lies deep inside the Jovian ring. At a radius of 122,500km, the Halo ring coincides with the main ring’s inner boundary. The Halo’s vertical extent is not known but its material was detected 10,000km high on the ring’s plane. The shape of the Halo ring resembles a thick torus. The surface brightness of Halo ring is less than that of the main ring.

Amalthea Gossamer Ring

The Amalthea gossamer ring is rectangular and very faint. It stretches from Amalthea orbit at 129,000km to 182,000km. Its thickness is 2300km near Amalthea’s orbit but the size reduces towards the Jupiter planet. The Amalthea gossamer ring is brighter at the bottom and top surfaces. It is also gradually brighter in the direction of Jupiter planet.

Thebe Gossamer Ring

The Thebe ring is very faint and rectangular. Its thickness is 8400 km near Thebe’s orbit but this size reduces towards planet Jupiter’s surface. Thebe gossamer ring is bright both on top and bottom surfaces though it is three times fainter than Amalthea.

Other Planets With Rings

Apart from Jupiter, other planets with rings include Uranus, Neptune and Saturn. Uranus planet has 13 known rings, which are faint. The Epsilon ring is the brightest among the Uranus rings. On the other hand, Saturn planet has seven rings and Neptune has five rings.


More in Environment