Uranus-Facts.com logo Jupiter Facts

Uranus Rings

Uranus Rings
Solid lines are Uranus's rings. Dotted lines are Uranus's moons orbit.

Uranus has 13 known rings, however unlike Saturn’s bright thick rings; Uranus’s rings are darker and thinner (most of them are about 100 meters). The general consensus is Uranus’s first rings were discovered in 1977 by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. However it is worth to mention William Herschel who discovered Uranus, in his report in 1797 to the Royal Society included a description of a possible ring around the planet. But because no one was able to confirm this for almost 200 years he was not given credit as the first to discover the first ring of Uranus.

Uranus’s rings have very little dust in their composition, instead it has objects like big boulders which could be anywhere from a few meters to a few kilometers. The largest ring in terms of width is Mu (R/2003 U 1) with a width of 17,000 km or 10,563 miles with a distance of 97,000 km or 60,273 miles from Uranus which is the farthest than any other of Uranus’s rings. The great width of its ring may be attributable to how far it is from the planet, where the lower gravitational pull from Uranus compared to the other rings from Uranus is keeping the ring from consolidating its width. Also Uranus’s moon Mab is also within this ring so meteoroids which collide into Mab release smaller objects from the impact. If one conjectures the closer the rings are to the planet then the less wide they would be. Well this may not be correct because Uranus’s inner most ring (Zeta (1986 U2R)) is the third widest at 3,500 km or 2,175 miles with a distance of 39,600 km or 24,606 miles from Uranus.

List of Uranus Rings

Name Distance from Uranus (km) Width (km) Thickness (km)
Zeta (1986 U2R) 39,600 3,500 0.1
6 41,840 1 - 3 0.1
5 42,230 2 - 3 0.1
4 42,580 2 - 3 0.1
Alpha 44,720 7 - 12 0.1
Beta 45,670 7 - 12 0.1
Eta 47,190 0 - 2 0.1
Gamma 47,630 1 - 4 0.1
Delta 48,290 3 - 9 0.1
Lambda (1986 U1R) 50,024 2 - 3 0.1
Epsilon 51,140 20 - 100 < 15
Nu (R/2003 U 2) 67,300 3,800?
Mu (R/2003 U 1) 97,700 17,000?