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Jupiter: Rings
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Tenuous rings of fine dust particles encircle Jupiter in a ring system apparently created by small moons.

All four giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, possess a system of rings. Unlike the brilliant, icy rings of Saturn, Jupiter's rings are tenuous, dusty structures. And although Saturn's iconic rings were first spied by Galileo in 1610, Jupiter's faint rings were not spied until the 1970s, when spacecraft first visited the Jupiter system.

Jupiter's ring system has three main components: a pair of very faint outer rings called the gossamer rings; a 6500-kilometer (4000-mile) wide, flat main ring; and a thick inner ring called the halo.

The rings appear to be created by dust thrown off by impacts on small moons that orbit within them. The gossamer rings actually outline the orbits of the moons Amalthea and Thebe. The moons Adrastea and Metis skirt through the outer edges of the main ring.

The doughnut-shaped halo is approximately 20,000 to 40,000 kilometers (12,400 to 25,000 miles) in overall thickness, although most of its material lies within a few hundred kilometers of the ring plane. Its shape is thought to be due to electromagnetic forces within Jupiter's magnetosphere acting on the dust particles of the ring. Otherwise, the halo is made of essentially the same particles that comprise the main ring.

Jupiter's Rings
Ring Name: 1979 J1R ("Halo")
Distance*: 100,000 - 122, 800 km
Width: 22,800 km

Ring Name: 1979 J2R ("Main")
Distance*: 122,800 - 129,200 km
Width: 6,400 km
Mass: x 1013 kg

Ring Name: 1979 J3R ("Gossamer")
Distance*: 129,200 - 214,200 km
Width: 85,000 km

* The distance is measured from the planet center to the start of the ring.
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Last Updated: 17 Apr 2014