Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




IRON AND ICE
First Ring System Around Asteroid
by Staff Writers
La Silla, Chile (ESO) Mar 27, 2014


Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System - after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris. This artist's impression shows the view from inside the ring system, with Chariklo behind and shepherding satellites also visible. ESO Image

Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.

This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System - after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris. The new results are published online in the journal Nature on 26 March 2014.

The rings of Saturn are one of the most spectacular sights in the sky, and less prominent rings have also been found around the other giant planets. Despite many careful searches, no rings had been found around smaller objects orbiting the Sun in the Solar System. Now observations of the distant minor planet (10199) Chariklo as it passed in front of a star have shown that this object too is surrounded by two fine rings.

"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!" says Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatorio Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) who planned the observation campaign and is lead author on the new paper.

Chariklo is the largest member of a class known as the Centaurs and it orbits between Saturn and Uranus in the outer Solar System. Predictions had shown that it would pass in front of the star UCAC4 248-108672 on 3 June 2013, as seen from South America. Astronomers using telescopes at seven different locations, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, were able to watch the star apparently vanish for a few seconds as its light was blocked by Chariklo - an occultation.

But they found much more than they were expecting. A few seconds before, and again a few seconds after the main occultation there were two further very short dips in the star's apparent brightness. Something around Chariklo was blocking the light! By comparing what was seen from different sites the team could reconstruct not only the shape and size of the object itself but also the shape, width, orientation and other properties of the newly discovered rings.

The team found that the ring system consists of two sharply confined rings only seven and three kilometres wide, separated by a clear gap of nine kilometres - around a small 250-kilometre diameter object orbiting beyond Saturn.

"For me, 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," adds Uffe Grae Jorgensen (Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), one of the team. "I try to imagine how it would be to stand on the surface of this icy object - small enough that a fast sports car could reach escape velocity and drive off into space - and stare up at a 20-kilometre wide ring system 1000 times closer than the Moon."

Although many questions remain unanswered, astronomers think that this sort of ring is likely to be formed from debris left over after a collision. It must be confined into the two narrow rings by the presence of small putative satellites.

"So, as well as the rings, it's likely that Chariklo has at least one small moon still waiting to be discovered," adds Felipe Braga Ribas.

The rings may prove to be a phenomenon that might in turn later lead to the formation of a small moon. Such a sequence of events, on a much larger scale, may explain the birth of our own Moon in the early days of the Solar System, as well as the origin of many other satellites around planets and asteroids.

The leaders of this project are provisionally calling the rings by the nicknames Oiapoque and Chui, two rivers near the northern and southern extremes of Brazil.

This research was presented in a paper entitled "A ring system detected around the Centaur (10199) Chariklo", by F. Braga-Ribas et al., to appear online in the journal Nature on 26 March 2014.

.


Related Links
ESO
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





IRON AND ICE
NASA Seeks Proposals on Asteroid Redirect Mission Concepts Development
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 25, 2014
In support of NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission - a key part of the agency's stepping stone path to send humans to Mars - agency officials are seeking proposals for studies on advanced technology development. Through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), released Friday, NASA hopes to solicit proposals for concept studies in areas including asteroid capture systems, rendezvous sensors, adaptin ... read more


IRON AND ICE
Expeditions to the Moon: beware of meteorites

ASU camera creates stunning mosaic of moon's polar region

Unique camera from NASA's moon missions sold at auction

China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover rouses from latest slumber

IRON AND ICE
Helpful Wind Cleans Solar Panels On Opportunity Mars Rover

NASA Mars Rover's Next Stop Has Sandstone Variations

Mars on Earth: vacuum chambers mimic the Red Planet

NASA Orbiter Finds New Gully Channel on Mars

IRON AND ICE
E3-production - sustainable manufacturing

You've got mail: Clinton-to-space laptop up for auction

US more dependent on Russia in space, than Russia on US - NASA

TED turns 30 with new chapter of 'ideas worth spreading'

IRON AND ICE
Tiangong's New Mission

"Space Odyssey": China's aspiration in future space exploration

China to launch first "space shuttle bus" this year

China expects to launch cargo ship into space around 2016

IRON AND ICE
New ISS Crew Wrapping Up Training for Launch

Technical hitch delays US-Russia crew's ISS docking

How astronauts survive diplomatic tensions in space

NASA Extends Lockheed Martin Contract to Support ISS

IRON AND ICE
Arianespace Launches ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A

SpaceX Launch to the ISS Reset for March 30

Ariane 5 hardware arrives for next ATV mission

Proton-M with two Russian communication satellites on board blasts off from Baikonur

IRON AND ICE
Space Sunflower May Help Snap Pictures of Planets

NRL Researchers Detect Water Around a Hot Jupiter

UK joins the planet hunt with Europe's PLATO mission

X-ray laser FLASH spies deep into giant gas planets

IRON AND ICE
Pushing and pulling: Using strain to tune a new quantum material

Lightweight Construction Materials of Highest Stability Thanks to Their Microarchitecture

Oregon physicists use geometry to understand 'jamming' process

It looks like rubber but isn't




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.