Ring Around the Asteroid

By: Susie77 , 12:10 AM GMT on March 27, 2014

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STRANGE BUT TRUE--AN ASTEROID WITH RINGS: Today
at a press conference in Brazil, astronomers announced the surprising
discovery of an asteroid with rings. The 250-km-wide asteroid, named Chariklo,
is located in the outer solar system between Saturn and Uranus. In June
2013, observers used seven different telescopes in South America to
watch the asteroid pass in front of a distant star. The star winked out
not just once, as would be expected for a solitary asteroid, but
multiple times, revealing a pair of dense narrow rings surrounding the
space rock. Here is an artist's concept of the system:

"We weren't looking for a
ring and didn't think small bodies like Chariklo had them at all, so the
discovery — and the amazing amount of detail we saw in the system —
came as a complete surprise!" says Felipe Braga-Ribas of Observatório
Nacional/MCTI in Rio de Janeiro. He planned the observing campaign and
is the lead author of a March 26th paper in Nature describing the results.
According to their analysis,
the rings are only 3 km and 7 km wide, respectively, with a 9 km gap
between them. "I try to imagine how it would be to stand on the
surface of this icy asteroid and stare up at a such a ring system
1000 times closer than the Moon," adds team member Uffe Gråe Jørgensen
of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark.
Because the rings are so
narrow, they are probably confined and shepherded by small
satellites. "So, as well as the rings, it's likely that Chariklo has at
least one small moon still waiting to be discovered," adds Felipe Braga
Ribas. For more information about this discovery, click here.

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12:32 PM GMT on March 31, 2014
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About Susie77

Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

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