Ring around the rosie … er, asteroid


Artist conception of Chariklo’s ring system. Image: Lucie Maquet

For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered rings around an asteroid. Previously rings have only been observed around planets — Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn.

The asteroid in question is Chariklo, which orbits in an area between Saturn and Uranus. It’s approximately 155 miles across, about the length of Massachusetts. As Chariklo passed in front of a distant star last June, astronomers noticed brief flickering just before and after its pass and eventually figured out the flickering was cause by rings.

For more details about the rings and how they might have formed, see “Astronomers Surprised to Find Asteroid With Rings.”

Categories: Sci/Tech, space

25 replies

  1. It is COOLER than cool, Susan ! – don’t you just love astrophysics and astronomy and all that lot ? Always something new (even if it’s to change the previous stance) …
    Great stuff !

  2. Very cool! The more we think we know, the more we realize we don’t.

  3. And I’m officially geeking out. 😉

  4. it is so so cool, you are right –

  5. I read about this on another blog, and I think it so cool PT. Brian Cox said that the early solar system must have looked very much like Saturn does now, with most of the rings eventually becoming the planets and their moons through the process of accretion. He also said that that process is ongoing, and I can’t help but wonder if this discovery is a confirmation of that in a way. Too bad we humans have such short lifespans, as I’d love to see the evolution revealed by future explorations…

    • The Rockin Professor ! – I dote on him ! 🙂 I’m allowed to say that, because I’m old enough to be … possibly his grandmother ? Found it: he’s 46. Looks half that age. Well then I’m old enough to be his mother, anyway ! And I should like to’ve been, with a brain like that !!!

    • Who wants to live forever? There can be only one. (Unless, perhaps, YOU are the Highlander …)

      (Sorry, I’m in a weird mood tonight.)

      • No apologies needed my friend. To be honest, the thought of not being here to be awed by the discoveries we make in the future is downright depressing. Then again, living on in an increasingly decrepit condition is too… O_o

        • I was hoping just to see men on the moon again. Or possibly Mars. Doesn’t seem too likely though.

          • It’s funny. Back in the 70s, I was naive enough to think I might some day be one of the first to walk on Mars. But what I’ve learned since then about hazards such a mission must overcome – bone loss, muscle atrophy, long-term exposure to cosmic radiation, etc. – makes me think we’ve got a lot to learn before we’ll actually be ready. Unlike the great science fictions tales I read as a kid, long-term space missions now seem more like those mythical Greek odysseys! O_o

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” ~ Cornel West

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