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Do any asteroids have rings?

It is well known that the four gas giants planets have rings but it might surprise you to know that some asteroids in the Solar System have ring systems.

Chariklo

Chariklo is the largest Centaur Asteroid in the solar system. Centaurs are asteroids that orbit between Saturn and Uranus in the solar system. The asteroid at the time was only known as 1997 CU26. The number is the year that the asteroid was discovered.

The asteroid was going to be occulated by a distant star so it gave scientists the opportunity to study the asteroid further in June 2013. Occulation is when an object blocks the light from a distant object.

The study was to be carried out by a group of scientists in South America. Amongst those involved in the experiment was the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The observatory is located one of the darkest areas in South America, perfect for studying the stars.

By studying the occulation, they would be able to get an idea of how big the object was. What they noticed was that the star was darkened before and after the asteroid passed in front of it. The scientists would examine it further before releasing the information in 2014. The asteroid was later renamed Chariklo on the grounds of how special the star was. N.A.S.A Any pictures you might see of Chriklo with a ring system is an artists impression. There is also a possibility that the asteroid might have a moon in orbit round it.

The rings are believed to have been formed when the asteroid had a collision with another object. Instead of loosing the dust into space, the dust and debris settled in orbit round the object.

Haumea

Haumea is one of the five recognised dwarf planets in the solar system. The list of dwarf planets include Pluto and Ceres. It is the only one of its type that has a ring around it.

The ring was discovered when a group of scientists were studying as it was occulating a distant star called URAT1 533-182543 in the constellation of Bootes in the northern hemisphere. The project was led by José Luis Ortiz from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain in collaboration with other institutions across Europe.

It wasn't the first time that an asteroid was discovered to have a ring system but it was the first time one had been discovered around a dwarf planet. It opens up the possibility that there could be other objects in the solar System with rings. U.C.F.


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