Britt Scharringhausen, of the IC Physics Department, Gives a Talk


Contributed by Jill Ackerman

Physics Fall Seminar Series - Tuesday, November 6, at 12:10 PM in CNS 204

Join us as Britt Scharringhausen gives a talk on: Probing the Vertical Structure of Saturn's F Ring through Ring-Plane Crossings

Saturn's narrow, dusty F ring lies just outside the main rings.  It is difficult to observe from Earth, except during a ring-plane crossing, when the rings are viewed edge-on. The Earth passes through Saturn's ring plane only about every 15 years. In a ring-plane crossing observed by Hubble Space Telescope in August 1995, an asymmetry in brightness between the east and west sides of the rings was observed.  We have shown that the inclination of the F ring relative to the main rings caused the asymmetry, because the F ring unevenly obscures the east and west side of the main rings. This discovery afforded an opportunity to measure the vertical thickness of the F ring, which we found to be 13 +/- 7 km.  Since 2004, the F ring has been observed extensively by the Cassini spacecraft.  The same techniques used to analyze the Earth ring-plane crossing can be applied to observations made during of crossings of the ring-plane by the Cassini spacecraft.  More rapid sampling allows us to probe the vertical structure of the F ring in even greater detail, and high-resolution images reveal details that are impossible to observe from Earth. 

Pizza and Refreshments will be available for $1. Please bring your own cup. Remember to Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the department assistant at We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.