Andre Brahic, discoverer of Neptune's rings, dies

May 18, 2016 09:14 IST

Andre BrahicAndre Brahic, one of the discoverers of Neptune's rings, died on 15 May 2016 in Paris, France. He was 73.

In 1984, Brahic with US astronomer William Hubbard launched a program that led to the discovery of the rings around the gaseous planet Neptune.

About Andre Brahic

Andre Fernand Brahic was a French astrophysicist.

He was a member of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and a professor at the University of Paris.

He was also on the imaging team for the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft.

In 1990, the asteroid 3488 Brahic was named in his honour.

In 2001, he was given the Carl Sagan Medal.

Rings of Neptune

The rings of Neptune consist primarily of five principal rings and were first discovered in 1984 in Chile.

The rings were eventually imaged in 1989 by the Voyager 2 spacecraft.

At their densest, they are comparable to the less dense portions of Saturn's main rings such as the C ring and the Cassini Division. However, much of Neptune's ring system is tenuous, faint and dusty.

Neptune's rings are named after astronomers who contributed important work on the planet: Galle, Le Verrier, Lassell, Arago and Adams.

The rings of Neptune are made of extremely dark material, likely organic compounds processed by radiation.

The proportion of dust in the rings (between 20% and 70%) is high, while their optical depth is low to moderate, at less than 0.1.

The Adams ring includes five distinct arcs, named Fraternité, Égalité, Liberté (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity), the national motto of France.

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