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Technology

Astronomers discover unexpected rings around Mercury

If you thought only Saturn has rings, you might want to reconsider since astronomers have just discovered rings aro
Published March 18, 2019

If you thought only Saturn has rings, you might want to reconsider since astronomers have just discovered rings around Mercury as well, however, different from the ones around Saturn.

Astronomers have recently made a surprising discovery by finding rings around the first planet of our solar system, Mercury. However, those rings aren’t like the one found around Saturn, but instead are made up of dust.

Looking for a region with a dust-free region around the sun, scientists Guillermo Stenborg and Russell Howard ironically came across the opposite instead, finding a ‘fine haze of cosmic dust’ sprinkled across the orbit of Mercury, which forms a ring that is 9.3 million miles wide. Mercury itself is just 3,030 miles wide, so it floats through a massive dust ring as it orbits the sun, reported Digital Trends.

Saturn is losing its rings at ‘worst-case-scenario’ rate, warns NASA

“We’re not really dust people,” Howard said. “The dust close to the Sun just shows up in our observations, and generally, we have thrown it away.” His team was trying to remove the effects of dust from images so the Parker Solar Probe can see the Sun more clearly. But, they soon realized the dust they were trying to remove was far denser and more prevalent than expected.

Moreover, Mercury was never imagined to have a dust ring around it, thus no one attempted to look for one earlier. Stenborg expressed, “People thought that Mercury, unlike Earth or Venus, is too small and too close to the Sun to capture a dust ring. They expected that the solar wind and magnetic forces from the Sun would blow any excess dust at Mercury’s orbit away.”

For now, both the researchers will pass on the discovery to the ‘dust people’ who will investigate Mercury’s dust ring, while the two will continue their search of dust-free region around the sun.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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