Asteroids Can Have Rings Like Saturn

Asteroids Can Have Rings Like Saturn

ring around asteroid.jpg

Okay not quite as impressive as Saturn’s rings but an asteroid has been discovered with a ring structure. The Centaur asteroid called Chariklo (asteroid number 10199) was discovered to have rings by an ingenious method. Centaur asteroids orbit amongst the giant planets and their orbits are well known. This allowed astronomers to predict that the asteroid would pass infront of a distant star at a certain time. When the telescopes were pointed at this star for the event an unusal thing happened. The star should have disappeared or had its light blocked by the passing asteroid. Instead this happened before and after the asteroid passed in addition to the main occultation. The data was analyzed and the result was that Chariklo probably has two ring structures around it.

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Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger

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