by Anura Guruge
>> P/2013 R3 a comet, not asteroid
>> — Mar. 10, 2014.
>> 2014 BR57 — Feb. 18, 2014.
>> 885′ 2000 EM26 to streak past …
>> — Feb. 16, 2014.
>> 2000 EM26 NOT spotted —
>> Feb. 18, 2014.
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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.
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.