Astronomers Amazed to Find Tiny Asteroid Has Saturn-Like Rings

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 08:50 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
It is not just Saturn and the giant gas planets of the solar system that bear rings. For the first time, rings have been found around an asteroid, a study published on Wednesday shows.

The asteroid, known as Chariklo, is more than 621 million miles from Earth, circling the sun in an orbit between Saturn and Uranus.

Editor’s Note: Get the Emergency Radio, It's a Must Have; Free With Special Offer.

On June 3, 2013, astronomers at seven different locations in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina were standing by to observe Chariklo. They hoped dips in starlight would reveal details of the 154-mile asteroid's size and shape.

They ended up with much more. Analyzing flickers of light during the occulation revealed two dense rings circling Chariklo.

Previously, only the giant planets Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune were known to have rings.

"We weren't looking for a ring and didn't think small bodies like Chariklo had them at all," lead astronomer Felipe Braga-Ribas, with Brazil's National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro, said in a statement. "The discovery came as a complete surprise."

Chariklo's rings have crisp edges, a feature typically caused by the gravitational effects of a small embedded moon or moons.

"It's likely that Chariklo has at least one small moon still waiting to be discovered," Braga Ribas said.

Chariklo's inner ring is 4.3 miles wide and the outer ring is 1.9 miles wide. The bands are separated by a 5.6 mile-wide gap.

The origin of the rings is not known, but scientists suspect they formed after another body crashed into Chariklo, forming a debris disk of icy particles.

The research is published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

Editor’s Note: Get the Emergency Radio, It's a Must Have; Free With Special Offer.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Smartphone Encryption May Set Up Law Enforcement Fight for Data

Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 10:24 AM

Smartphone makers Apple and Google are on track for a showdown with the government on new encryption features that makes . . .

Cyber Expert Weisman: Chinese Hacking 'Scares the Hell Out of Me'

Monday, 22 Sep 2014 13:22 PM

Cyber expert Steven J.J. Weisman and Javier Manjarres, managing editor of The Shark Tank Blog, talked to JD Hayworth on  . . .

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bills Promoting Electric Car Usage

Monday, 22 Sep 2014 12:10 PM

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed several bills on Sunday intended to boost his state's electric car market, including  . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved