Meet the mini-Saturn: Asteroid has two rocky rings
- Astronomers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, spotted the ringed asteroid
- Has a diameter of 155miles (250km) and orbits the sun between Saturn and Uranus, girdled by two thin rings composed of ice particles and pebbles
- The space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt
t was thought that only planets have rings, but now an asteroid has proved experts wrong.
A rocky body orbiting the sun between Saturn and Uranus is girdled by two rings, scientists have learned.
Previously only giant gas planets, most famously Saturn, were thought to possess bands made up of dust, rocks and ice.
Totally surprising: An asteroid orbiting the sun between Saturn and Uranus (illustrated) is girdled by two rings, scientists have learned. It is the first time that such a small celestial body with rings has been observed
CHARIKLO – THE SURPRISING ASTEROID WITH TWO BELTS
- Diameter: 155miles (250km)
- Original location: In the Kuiper Belt
- Present location: Largest member of the Centaurs
- Rings: Two – comprised of ice particles and pebbles.
- Width of the rings: Two miles and five miles (3km and 7km)
- Thickness of the rings: Few hundred metres
- Distance between the rings: Five miles (9km)
The ringed space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt, which is a circling group of icy dwarf planets and comets at the edge of the solar system.
At some point it was thrown out of the belt and now exists as the largest member of a group of objects known as the Centaurs, which are small solar system bodies with a an elliptical axis between two outer planets.
Astronomers stumbled across the rings while using several telescopes to observe Chariklo, which has a diameter of 155miles (250km).