Enceladus Building a Ring at Saturn

Ghostly Fingers of Enceladus

Hopefully by now, most people are aware of the shocking activity at this small moon named Enceladus at Saturn. It appears the moon is continually spewing out material (likely water-ice and rock) from a number of geysers located around its southern pole (see Life in the Hood: Enceladus for reference).

This image was taken around September of 2006, and reveals how Enceladus is actually constructing another ring around Saturn. The “ring” is not normally very visible, but by taking the image with the sun almost directly behind the structure - the particles become back-lit and appear brighter, like dust in a ray of light.

Close inspection of the image reveals quite a bit going on in there. You can see a darker path behind Enceladus as it sweeps up materials already left in it’s path from previous orbits. While in front and around the small moon, you can see jets of material being generated and going into orbit around Saturn. A similar phenomenon is happening at Jupiter with the torus created by Io’s volcanos as well, but I am unaware of any images illustrating that phenomenon as detailed as the one seen here.