10199 Chariklo: First Asteroid To Be Spotted With Saturn-like Rings, Two Actually.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.


Anura Guruge

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Philip Corneille who helped me with my ‘Comets: 101 Facts & Trivia‘ book last year (and will do so on a new book on asteroids later this year, with luck), kindly sent me this link yesterday.

I was intrigued. ‘Wow’ was my first reaction and I assume most folks would feel that way.

Indubitably significant and of course, groundbreaking. But once I started thinking about it I realized like so many other things in our amazing (and as yet only sparsely explored) Solar System this was inevitable. We know of asteroids with moons. The first such moon, or ‘satellite’ if you want to be pedantic, discovered in 1994 on images taken by the Galileo spacecraft, around main-belt asteroid, 243 Ida. We now know of over a 100 ‘minor planets’, asteroids, with moons. If you have moons they can get shattered from an impact, internal weakness or a gravitational tug. A shattered moon, or two, or three, will give you rings. Hence the inevitability. That said, this is still special. Enjoy and rejoice.

Click to access "European Southern Observatory" (ESO) coverage and access video-cast.

Click to access “European Southern Observatory” (ESO) coverage and access video-cast.

The asteroid, 10199 Chariklo (named after a nymph), discovered in 1997, is not a main-belt asteroid. It is actually further out than Saturn — going quite close to Uranus.

Here is an artist’s depiction of the rings.

Click to ENLARGE. From Wikipedia.

Click to ENLARGE. From Wikipedia.


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