Rings and moons


Rings and moons are the matter that orbit a celestial body other than a star. Rings are a collection of dust or small particles that form into a flat disk. Moons, or natural satellites, are much larger single bodies. Large moons can themselves support rings.


Latest Research and Reviews

  • Reviews |

    Total solar eclipses are a unique opportunity to study the lower solar corona where the solar wind originates. This review presents the recent advancements in coronal science from eclipses and the scientific and outreach plans for this year's totality.

    • Jay M. Pasachoff
  • Research |

    Interferometric telescope observations of the Jovian moon Io reveal that the floor of the Loki Patera volcano has been resurfaced in two waves, with different starting times and velocities.

    • K. de Kleer
    • , M. Skrutskie
    • , J. Leisenring
    • , A. G. Davies
    • , A. Conrad
    • , I. de Pater
    • , A. Resnick
    • , V. Bailey
    • , D. Defrère
    • , P. Hinz
    • , A. Skemer
    • , E. Spalding
    • , A. Vaz
    • , C. Veillet
    •  & C. E. Woodward
    Nature 545, 199–202
  • Research |

    Cassini’s camera observed Titan from orbit at different angles (0–166°) and found that the planet looks brighter towards the night than at midday. This effect, linked to the scattering properties of Titanian haze, can also be present in exoplanets.

    • A. García Muñoz
    • , P. Lavvas
    •  & R. A. West
  • Research |

    Frictional charging of granular materials may readily occur on Saturn’s moon Titan. Laboratory experiments under Titan-like conditions suggest that the resulting electrostatic forces are strong enough to affect sand transport on Titan.

    • J. S. Méndez Harper
    • , G. D. McDonald
    • , J. Dufek
    • , M. J. Malaska
    • , D. M. Burr
    • , A. G. Hayes
    • , J. McAdams
    •  & J. J. Wray
    Nature Geoscience 10, 260–265

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    In our own solar system, Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold and Earth is just right. Simulations show that making an icy planet habitable is not as simple as melting its ice: many icy bodies swing from too cold to too hot, bypassing just right.

    • Andrew P. Ingersoll
  • News and Views |

    The seabed of Ligeia Mare, a hydrocarbon sea at the north pole of Titan, may be a favourable place for the separation of nitrogen and the creation of bubbles that then buoyantly rise to the sea's surface.

    • Jennifer Hanley
  • News and Views |

    The twin isotopic signatures of the Moon and Earth are difficult to explain by a single giant impact. Impact simulations suggest that making the Moon by a combination of multiple, smaller moonlet-forming impacts may work better.

    • Gareth S. Collins
    Nature Geoscience 10, 72–73
  • Comments and Opinion |

    After more than a decade exploring Saturn and its moons, the Cassini mission is in its closing act. Cassini's last year is an encore performance stuffed with science, including a final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.

    • Scott G. Edgington
    •  & Linda J. Spilker
    Nature Geoscience 9, 472–473
  • News and Views |

    The two small satellites of Mars are thought to have accreted from a debris disk formed in a giant impact. Simulations suggest the moons were shepherded into formation by the dynamical influence of one or more short-lived massive inner moons.

    • Erik Asphaug
    Nature Geoscience 9, 568–569