Jun 19, 2012

Picture of the Day: Jupiter Eclipsing the Sun




jupiter eclipsing the sun and showing rings 2 Picture of the Day: Jupiter Eclipsing the Sun


In this incredible photograph taken from the Galileo Spacecraft we can see an eclipse of the sun by the planet Jupiter. What’s equally remarkable about this shot is that the reflected sunlight also shows the rings of Jupiter. Some of you may not have known that Jupiter has rings. In fact they were only discovered in 1979 by the passing Voyager 1 spacecraft.

Their origin was a mystery until data from the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003 later confirmed that these rings were created by meteoroid impacts on small nearby moons. As a small meteoroid strikes tiny Adrastea, for example, it will bore into the moon, vaporize, and explode dirt and dust off into a Jovian orbit.

What we’re seeing here in the reflected sunlight are both the dust particles that compose Jupiter’s rings along with other dust particles high in Jupiter’s orbit that help give the massive planet shape in this phenomenal shot. [Source: APOD]