An Asteroid with Rings: The ringed space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt


 This is an artist’s concept of the system


  • Diameter: 155miles (250km)
  • Original location: In the Kuiper Belt
  • Present location: Largest member of the Centaurs
  • Rings: Two – comprised of ice particles and pebbles.
  • Width of the rings: Two miles and five miles  (3km and 7km)
  • Thickness of the rings: Few hundred metres
  • Distance between the rings: Five miles (9km)

The ringed space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt, which is a circling group of icy dwarf planets and comets at the edge of the solar system.

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

“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.

One Response to “An Asteroid with Rings: The ringed space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt”

  1. hocuspocus13 Says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13.

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