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Q&A: Our Solar System

Q:
Is there more energy coming out of Saturn's rings than the sun provides? Probably less, as with Saturn itself or Jupiter?

A:
Saturn
X-ray Image of Saturn
Less energy is emitted from the rings than is absorbed by them from the Sun's rays. This is actually always the case, as no astrophysical object is a perfect emitter. In physics terms, an object that absorbs all the radiation that hits it and then sends the radiation out again is called a "blackbody." Even though no real object is a perfect absorber/emitter, objects such as the Sun are quite close to perfect and are treated like blackbodies in calculations and computer simulations.

For more information on the Sun and its interaction with the planets, please see our Chandra Field Guide to the Solar System, here: http://chandra.harvard.edu/xray_sources/solar_system.html

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