Home > Lifestyle > Features
Friday March 28, 2014 MYT 7:00:00 AM
Friday March 28, 2014 MYT 10:04:45 AM
by irene klotz
It's 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.
The asteroid, known as 10199 Chariklo, is more than a billion kilometres from Earth, circling the sun in an orbit between Saturn and Uranus.
On June 3 last year, astronomers at seven different locations in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina were standing by to observe the asteroid as it passed in front of star, relative to the telescopes’ lines of sight.
They hoped the dips in starlight, caused by the asteroid passing in front of the star, would reveal details of the 248km asteroid’s size and shape.
They ended up with much more.
Analysing flickers of light during the occultation 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. “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. Chariklo’s inner ring is 7km wide and the outer ring is 3km wide. The bands are separated by a 9km wide gap.
“It’s likely that Chariklo has at least one small moon still waiting to be discovered,” Braga-Ribas said.
“It was quite amazing to realise that we were able not only to detect a ring system, but also pinpoint that it consists of two clearly distinct rings,” astronomer Uffe Grae Jorgensen, with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said.
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. – Reuters
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Science Technology, Science, Astronomy, asteroid, planetary rings, Chariklo, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter, solar system
China dreams of electric sheep at robot conference
Minister urges media to help explain TPPA
Company’s latest commercial air conditioning product to benefit business owners
Financing green economy
Ten cool, hidden iOS 9 tips
Relaxing massage in the comfort of home
New fix for coffee lovers
Honouring the masters of their trade
Mexico’s rich, fiery flavours come to life for diners in the capital
Footwear company launches Fall/Winter collections at its latest concept outlet in Sunway
Eight experiences you can’t miss when in Australia
Air Asia free seat promotion begins today
Spain's Rajoy vows to cut tax, create jobs if re-elected
Underprivileged children from home enjoy Deepavali dinner at hotel
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)