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First ever asteroid with rings: Chariklo causes big buzz

Discovery of Chariklo causes excitement among astronomers.
Discovery of Chariklo causes excitement among astronomers.
Photo by Mesa Top News Examiner: Video screen cap

A first ever asteroid discovery is generating big buzz today with astronomers. This asteroid has something that has only ever been seen around planets like Saturn and Uranus. The discovery of rings around a small asteroid is the source of the buzz. On March 26, Nature World News reported on the discovery of Chariklo.

This small asteroid is only 250 kilometers wide, and the rings around it were not noticed before. What revealed the rings around the small asteroid? Astronomers made the discovery last summer when the asteroid passed between a distant star and Earth.

When the light from the star was blocked, astronomers saw three dips in the light. The first was from the asteroid itself, but the next two were the rings around it. The two rings have a gap of 9 kilometers in between them. Uffe Gråe Jørgensen of the Niels Bohr Institute said the following about the find:

For me, it was quite amazing to realize that we were able not only to detect a ring system, but also pinpoint that it consists of two clearly distinct rings.

How did the rings develop around the asteroid? A collision is being blamed for the creation of the rings around Chariklo. This is the first ever discovery of rings around a small body in space, but it won't be the last. Now that the possibility of this type of anomaly is known, scientists can be on the lookout.

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