n MNASSA : Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of South Africa - Possible ring system found around a minor planet : news note

Volume 74, Issue 3_4
  • ISSN : 0024-8266



Astronomers at the SAAO and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA have recently detected what may be rings around Chiron, a minor planet in our solar system. Though it is well-known that all the gas giant planets have rings, the minor planet Chariklo also has them. Chiron and Chariklo belong to a class of minor planets called centaurs: small rocky bodies that possess properties of both asteroids and comets and are found in a band between the orbits of Jupiter and Pluto. Prior to the discovery of Chariklo's rings, centaurs were thought to be relatively dormant objects. The latest discovery of a possible ring system around another centaur, Chiron, if confirmed, suggests that ring systems are far more common in our solar system than previously thought.

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