Active Enceladus feeds Saturnís E ring

Active Enceladus feeds Saturnís E ring

Fig. 10.20 . Geysers near the south pole of Saturnís moon Enceladus (middle of ring) send water ice and water vapor tens of thousands of kilometers into space, where they are trapped by Saturnís gravity into orbit around the planet, forming the E ring. Saturnís moon Tethys is at the far left, and a background star is seen between Tethys and the ring. The Sun was almost directly behind Saturn when this image was taken, and this backlighting makes the small particles in the E ring appear brighter than they normally are. The dark region extending up from Enceladus follows the moon in its orbit; this hollowed out core is probably caused by the sweeping action of Enceladus as it moves in the center of the E ring. This image was taken in visible light from the Cassini spacecraft on 15 September 2006. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL/SSI.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University