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Asteroid with ring system discovered

Posted on Friday, 28 March, 2014 | Comment icon 20 comments

An artist's impression of the rings. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calcada/Nick Risinger
A 250km-wide rock known as Chariklo is the smallest known object to feature a ring system.
Up until now rings were thought to be exclusive to larger bodies such as the gas giant planets Saturn and Uranus, but astronomers working from telescopes in South America have this week announced the discovery of a tiny asteroid with what appear to be two distinct rings.

"Our best guess for the origin of the rings is that there was a collision on Chariklo and that this collision injected a disc of material around the body," said astronomer Bruno Sicardy.

The two rings measure 7km and 3km in width with a 9km gap between them. While the asteroid's current path places it just beyond the orbit of Saturn it is believed that it would have originally formed in the outer solar system.

Astronomers were able to see the rings by observing the asteroid as it passed in front of a distant star.

Source: BBC News | Comments (20)

Tags: Chariklo, Rings

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by taniwha on 28 March, 2014, 20:07
How come there is no evidence of the moon in the occultation data?
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 March, 2014, 21:48
Because moons orbit around their primary, in other words they are constantly moving. The chances of a small moon being in exactly the correct point in it's orbit to occult the star are quite low.
Comment icon #13 Posted by toast on 28 March, 2014, 21:52
Astronomy is the best cinema you can get. Period.
Comment icon #14 Posted by taniwha on 28 March, 2014, 22:36
Thats not conclusive evidence of rings. The asteroid may have two or more moons that happened to be in the correct spatial alignment at the right time. Just saying.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Merc14 on 28 March, 2014, 23:28
Anything is possible but that is highly improbable. There are two rings which means 4 occlusions so there would have to be 4 moons, all lined up perfectly, to get your results. What do you think is more likely? Plus, I am sure, when a team of professionals considers all the data from the various instruments involved, that they are pretty sure they are looking at rings, two of them, around the asteroid..
Comment icon #16 Posted by Sundew on 7 April, 2014, 14:33
Impressive find! Perhaps in the future tech will have reached a stage where we can send thousands of tiny exploratory robotic ships with cameras to all these exotic worlds to gather data and take photos.
Comment icon #17 Posted by taniwha on 7 April, 2014, 15:27
That would be great. Or even if those robots could attach to one and navigate it back to Earth for the purpose of 's t u d y' lol.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 8 April, 2014, 13:22
You don't know what you are talking about. Just saying. Not only that but you would have to have two pairs of moons sharing only two orbits. The pairs would have to be 180[sup]o[/sup] from each other. This is a highly unstable situation. The chances of finding one pair of moons in that position are vanishingly low. The chances of two pairs virtually non-existent. This is conclusive evidence of rings (for everyone except taniwha apparently) and is how the rings of both Uranus and Neptune were discovered.
Comment icon #19 Posted by coolguy on 11 April, 2014, 3:31
Awesome find.i bet there are other asteroids with rings around them
Comment icon #20 Posted by Merc14 on 12 April, 2014, 3:12
I'd bet you are right sir. Cheers to the folks that are finding them, the geniuses that created the tools to find them and the guys with 40 pound heads that think this stuff up and then go look for it. We are a helluva a species aren't we?

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