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

  • Research |

    Hubble Space Telescope observations of the seventh inner moon of Neptune, Hippocamp, show that it is smaller than the other six, orbits near Proteus and probably originates from a fragment of Proteus.

    • M. R. Showalter
    • , I. de Pater
    • , J. J. Lissauer
    •  & R. S. French
    Nature 566, 350-353
  • Research |

    Chariklo, Haumea and potentially Chiron are the only known ringed Solar System objects that are not giant planets. The rings of these minor bodies are relatively further from their hosts than those around giant planets; this increase is shown to be due to resonances driven by modest topographic features or elongations.

    • B. Sicardy
    • , R. Leiva
    • , S. Renner
    • , F. Roques
    • , M. El Moutamid
    • , P. Santos-Sanz
    •  & J. Desmars
    Nature Astronomy 3, 146-153
  • Research |

    Saturn’s moon Titan may have an active dust cycle in equatorial regions driven by storm winds, Cassini observations consistent with dust suspension in Titan’s atmosphere suggest.

    • S. Rodriguez
    • , S. Le Mouélic
    • , J. W. Barnes
    • , J. F. Kok
    • , S. C. R. Rafkin
    • , R. D. Lorenz
    • , B. Charnay
    • , J. Radebaugh
    • , C. Narteau
    • , T. Cornet
    • , O. Bourgeois
    • , A. Lucas
    • , P. Rannou
    • , C. A. Griffith
    • , A. Coustenis
    • , T. Appéré
    • , M. Hirtzig
    • , C. Sotin
    • , J. M. Soderblom
    • , R. H. Brown
    • , J. Bow
    • , G. Vixie
    • , L. Maltagliati
    • , S. Courrech du Pont
    • , R. Jaumann
    • , K. Stephan
    • , K. H. Baines
    • , B. J. Buratti
    • , R. N. Clark
    •  & P. D. Nicholson
    Nature Geoscience 11, 727-732
  • Research | | open

    Observations of Jupiter’s magnetosphere provide opportunities to understand how magnetic fields interact with particles. Here, the authors report that the chorus wave power is increased in the vicinity of Europa and Ganymede. The generated waves are able to accelerate particles to very high energy.

    • Y. Y. Shprits
    • , J. D. Menietti
    • , A. Y. Drozdov
    • , R. B. Horne
    • , E. E. Woodfield
    • , J. B. Groene
    • , M. de Soria-Santacruz
    • , T. F. Averkamp
    • , H. Garrett
    • , C. Paranicas
    •  & D. A. Gurnett
  • Research |

    The detection of complex organic molecules with masses higher than 200 atomic mass units in ice grains emitted from Enceladus indicates the presence of a thin organic-rich layer on top of the moon’s subsurface ocean.

    • Frank Postberg
    • , Nozair Khawaja
    • , Bernd Abel
    • , Gael Choblet
    • , Christopher R. Glein
    • , Murthy S. Gudipati
    • , Bryana L. Henderson
    • , Hsiang-Wen Hsu
    • , Sascha Kempf
    • , Fabian Klenner
    • , Georg Moragas-Klostermeyer
    • , Brian Magee
    • , Lenz Nölle
    • , Mark Perry
    • , René Reviol
    • , Jürgen Schmidt
    • , Ralf Srama
    • , Ferdinand Stolz
    • , Gabriel Tobie
    • , Mario Trieloff
    •  & J. Hunter Waite
    Nature 558, 564-568

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    A new model predicts locations on the surface of radiation-blasted Europa, the ocean moon of Jupiter, where biochemical signatures of life emergent from the subsurface ocean might survive long enough for detection on the moon’s changing surface.

    • John F. Cooper
    Nature Astronomy 2, 617-618
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The exploration of ocean worlds in the outer Solar System offers the opportunity to search for an independent origin of life, and also to advance our capabilities for exploring and understanding life in Earth’s oceans.

    • Kevin Peter Hand
    •  & Christopher R. German
  • News and Views |

    More than 20 GW of power are necessary to balance the heat emitted by Enceladus and avoid the freezing of its internal ocean. A very porous core undergoing tidal heating can generate the required power to maintain a liquid ocean and drive hydrothermal activity.

    • Francis Nimmo
    Nature Astronomy 1, 821-822