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First Asteroid Discovered Sporting a Ring System 29

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the coolest-rock-in-the-belt dept.
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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First Asteroid Discovered Sporting a Ring System

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  • by Payden K. Pringle (3483599) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @03:42PM (#46586993)

    >But for the first time astronomers have discovered that ring systems aren't exclusive to planetary bodies — asteroids can have them too.

    I get the word "discovered" here, but... I wouldn't think that gravity is exclusive to planetary bodies. Anything with significant gravity can have a ring system under the right conditions.

    Sensationalist article is sensationalist. But hey, it's slashdot.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:29PM (#46587349) Homepage

    I get the word "discovered" here, but... I wouldn't think that gravity is exclusive to planetary bodies. Anything with significant gravity can have a ring system under the right conditions.

    True. But the smaller and weaker the gravitational field is, or the more perturbed it is, the lower the chance for a ring system to form let alone remain stable. Not to mention, there's a huge difference between something being theoretically (if extraordinarily remotely) possible and actually observing said thing in the wild.

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