Skip to content

First-ever asteroid discovered with rings, astronomers agape

By Catholic Online (THE NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/27/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Enigmatic asteroid will be followed for further study.

Astronomers have discovered an asteroid with rings, the first time such a phenomenon has ever been observed. The discovery was made during a rare astronomical event known as an occultation.

Asteroid Chariklo has rings, the only known example of such.

Asteroid Chariklo has rings, the only known example of such.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (THE NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/27/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Chariklo, rings, asteroid, centaur


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The greatest thing a scientist can hear in the laboratory is the dubious phrase, "that's strange." In June 2013, that's how scientists reacted when asteroid Chariklo passed in front of a distant star in an event known as an occultation.

Occultations are rare for asteroids, although one occurred just last week when a major asteroid passed in front of the star Regulus in the constellation, Leo. That occultation was visible only across a narrow band of territory sweeping though New England and it was largely obscured by poor weather.

St. Dominic, patron saint of astronomers.

However, astronomers had no problem viewing the occultation of Chariklo in June 2013.

Scientists expected the asteroid to quickly block the starlight behind it, winking out, then back on some seconds later, but instead they saw the starlight dim and brighten, then go out, then brighten and dim again. This is the telltale sign that the star's light is passing through rings.

Astronomers first detected rings around Uranus and Neptune using the same technique. What is most surprising in this case is that until now, astronomers thought only giant planets could have rings.

Chariklo is 155 miles wide, which the observations confirmed. They also revealed that the asteroid has two rings, an outer ring about 2 miles wide and an inner one 4 miles wide. The rings are separated by a gap of 5.5 miles.

The rings are probably made of water ice. How they got there is a matter of wild speculation, but likely there was a collision long ago which caused ice to be knocked off the asteroid's surface and to fall into orbit around the M&M-shaped rock.

In a stroke of fortune, the asteroid will occult three more stars over the next year because it is passing in front of a field of stars which is easily visible to Hubble and other powerful telescopes. This will allow them to confirm their discovery and take more precise measurements.

This particular asteroid is of interest to astronomers because it is rich in organic material, as are most asteroids which orbit between Uranus and Saturn. These asteroids are collectively classified as "Centaurs."

Astronomers want to determine with greater precision what Centaurs really are because they have properties of asteroids, but are also rich in ice and organics like comets, hence their name.

The discovery is detailed in the current issue of the scientific journal, Nature.

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption.
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.


Comments


More Technology

Do these paintings show ancient aliens visited Earth? What does the Church say? Watch

Image of NASA has been asked to take a look at some notable petroglyphs in India.

The evidence is mounting that we are not alone in the universe and that we may have been, and could still be, regularly visited by ... continue reading


Falcon Heavy launches humanity's fourth car into space, and other facts you didn't know Watch

Image of DON'T PANIC!

Faith, the Olympics, and spaceflight all unite the world. Even when we compete, even when we celebrate our diversity, these three things ... continue reading


Twitter to ban 'way of talking' - could this include Christian speech? Watch

Image of Social media sites are increasing censorship, but will it affect Christian speech too?

Social media censorship is on the rise, prompting fears that Christian speech could be stifled. Recently, a Twitter engineer was caught on ... continue reading


Government official confirms aliens are real, so now what? Watch

Image of The aliens are real. So now what?

A couple weeks ago, Luis Elizondo, the former Pentagon head of a virtual X-Files program within the Department of Defense, broke the ... continue reading


Declassified video may be best evidence yet of UFOs Watch

Image of Infrared footage from the camera suggests the video is authentic.

Last week, a story surged in the media that may serve as the best evidence yet that Earth is being visited by extraterrestrials. While most ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.