Emily LakdawallaFeb 09, 2009

New names for gaps in Saturn's rings

According to a bulletin today from the USGS, there are nine new formal names for many gaps in the Saturnian ring system: Bond, Dawes, Herschel, Russell, Jeffreys, Kuiper, Laplace, Bessel, and Barnard. Here's a table, again copied from the USGS, detailing the locations of rings and ring gaps. The new Bond and Dawes gaps are located within the C ring; all the others are located within the Cassini Division.

NameDistance
rom planet's
enter (km)
Width (km)
D67,000 - 74,4907,500
C74,490 - 91,98017,500
Colombo Gap77,800100
Maxwell Gap87,500270
Bond Gap88,690 - 88,72030
Dawes Gap90,200 - 90,22020
B91,980 - 117,50025,500
Cassini Division117,500 - 122,0504,700
Huygens Gap117,680285 - 440
Herschel Gap118,183 - 118,285102
Russell Gap118,597 - 118,63033
Jeffreys Gap118,931 - 118,96938
Kuiper Gap119,403 - 119,4063
Laplace Gap119,848 - 120,086238
Bessel Gap120,236 - 120,24610
Barnard Gap120,305 - 120,31813
A122,050 - 136,77014,600
Encke Gap133,570325
Keeler Gap136,53035
Roche Division136,770 - 139,3802600
F140,22430 - 500
G166,000 - 174,0008,000
E180,000 - 480,000300,000

For context, here's Cassini's marvelous panorama across the complete ring system, including the gaps that had names at the time that the images were taken on May 9, 2007.

Panoramic scan across Saturn's rings (labeled)
Panoramic scan across Saturn's rings (labeled)
From a vantage point about a million kilometers away and 39 degrees to the north of the ring plane, Cassini scanned across the unlit side of Saturn's rings, acquiring images through multiple color filters. Images taken through red, green, and blue filters have been combined into this approximately natural color panorama, which shows details as small as 6 kilometers across (which is much larger than any of the individual particles within the rings). Because the light is shining from the back of the rings toward Cassini, parts of the rings that are mostly transparent but contain lots of fine dust, like the F ring and the Cassini division, are particularly bright. Credit: NASA / JPL / SSI
New names for gaps in the Cassini Division within Saturn's rings
New names for gaps in the Cassini Division within Saturn's rings
On February 9, 2009, the International Astronomical Union announced nine new names for gaps within Saturn's rings, including seven gaps within the Cassini division. The Cassini division separates Saturn's main A and B rings. Credit: NASA / JPL / SSI / diagram by Emily Lakdawalla

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