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2 more rings spotted around Uranus

December 23, 2005 09:21 IST
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Astronomers on Wednesday said they have spotted two rings encircling Uranus in addition to the 11 previously known.

These are the first additions to the planet's ring system in 20 years.

The faint, dusty rings orbit outside the previously identified rings, and inside the orbits of its large moons, reports said.

With the discovery, scientists believe Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, has 13 rings.

In 1986, Voyager 2, the first spacecraft to fly past Uranus, beamed back thousands of images of its dazzling rings and numerous moons.

It found two new rings in addition to the nine previously discovered from Earth.

Scientists, using the Hubble Space Telescope, had made the latest ring discoveries in 2004.

They then processed hundreds of images taken by Voyager 2 and identified the rings.

Short-lived, faint bands of dust grains that are constantly being replenished by erosion of larger space bodies constitute the new ring.

Scientists are of the opinion that one of Uranus' big moons, Mab, supplies the dust in the outermost ring.

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