The Sciences

Asteroid Rocks the Rings

Chariklo is the smallest known object to sport them.

By Bill AndrewsNov 26, 2014 6:00 AM
asteroid.jpg
An illustration of asteroid (10199) Chariklo passing in front of a distant star. | ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger/skysurvey.org

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Rings are common sights around the four largest planets of the solar system, but astronomers reported in March that they had found the celestial circles around an unexpected and much smaller fifth target: an asteroid named (10199) Chariklo.

The space rock is just 154 miles wide, yet when it passed in front of a distant star, two delicate, icy rings clearly stood out. One is about 4 miles wide, the other 2 miles, and a 6-mile gap separates them from each other.

The illustration above shows Chariklo’s surface and the sun behind the rings, which might have arisen from a collision that once rocked the asteroid.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.