The very last talk of yesterday afternoon, and the entire meeting, was given by Mark Showalter. He presented some Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images of Neptune and Uranus. In this post I will stick to Neptune.

Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun and is surrounded by rings and moons. Although the rings are not as impressive as those of Saturn, they do have some interesting features. When Voyager 2 flew by in 1989, the outermost of the rings was found to contain arcs of material. The <strike>three</strike> four arcs of material are named: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité and Courage (I guess Courage was found later). The HST has been taking images of Neptune this year and it now looks as though the Courage and Liberté arcs have pretty much gone - they certainly won't be with us much longer. Egalité and Fraternité are still there though, so they are stable over a period of at least 15 years.

They had also hoped to image Neptune's moon Naiad which orbits within the rings. However, it seems to have disappeared as it wasn't seen in any of the data. Has it actually gone or has it some how dimmed? No one is sure so more observations will be needed.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 10th Sep 2005 (14:33 UTC) | Permalink
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