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First Asteroid Discovered Sporting a Ring System

astroengine (1577233) writes | about 7 months ago

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astroengine (1577233) writes "When you think of a celestial ring system, the beautiful ringed planet Saturn will likely jump to mind. But for the first time astronomers have discovered that ring systems aren’t exclusive to planetary bodies — asteroids can have them too. Announced on Wednesday, astronomers using several observatories in South America, including the ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, have discovered that distant asteroid Chariklo possesses two distinct rings. Chariklo, which is approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) wide, is the largest space rock in a class of asteroids known as Centaurs that orbit between Saturn and Uranus in the outer solar 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!” said lead researcher Felipe Braga-Ribas, of the Observatório Nacional and MCTI, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."
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