New Dust Belts of Uranus: One Ring, Two Ring, Red Ring, Blue Ring

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Science  07 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5770, pp. 92-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.1125110

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We compared near-infrared observations of the recently discovered outer rings of Uranus with Hubble Space Telescope results. We find that the inner ring, R/2003 U 2, is red, whereas the outer ring, R/2003 U 1, is very blue. Blue is an unusual color for rings; Saturn's enigmatic E ring is the only other known example. By analogy to the E ring, R/2003 U 1 is probably produced by impacts into the embedded moon Mab, which apparently orbits at a location where nongravitational perturbations favor the survival and spreading of submicron-sized dust. R/2003 U 2 more closely resembles Saturn's G ring, which is red, a typical color for dusty rings.

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