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Rings detected around a Centaur object between Jupiter and Saturn


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http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140326-rings-asteroid-comet-chariklo-centaur-planet-science-space/

The Centaur object 10199 Chariklo has been confirmed to be the first non-gas giant object in our solar system to have RINGS!

Not only that, but the rings are made of WATER ICE! This is, by far, the 2nd most spectacular discovery in the solar system IMO.

Not sure about you, but I think we should send a space probe to 10199 Chariklo to investigate!

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Do two objects make a ring or a pair of moons? At what point does it change?

I'm willing to bet that there is a phase transition in there somewhere, but I couldn't tell you exactly where. Off the top of my head, I would classify any stable arrangement where center of mass is at the center of the parent body to be a ring. This is never going to be true for a "few" moons. Certainly not for two. But how many you'd need before it turns into a "ring", I don't know.

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How did that even happen? Surely, an asteroid that small does not have a Roche limit for anything remotely rigid. Could these form as a result of an impact?

Yes, I would expect this to be the result of an impact. Or at least I can't think if a more likely explanation.

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How did that even happen? Surely, an asteroid that small does not have a Roche limit for anything remotely rigid. Could these form as a result of an impact?

I've thought something similar about Pluto. Not even big enough to be considered a planet anymore, BUT... more moons than any planet in the system except for gas giants.

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I've thought something similar about Pluto. Not even big enough to be considered a planet anymore, BUT... more moons than any planet in the system except for gas giants.

Pluto travels through a pretty densely populated part of our system. I think, if it weren't for gas giants, inner planets would probably end up with way more tiny moons as well. Somebody with better understanding of Solar system formation might be prepared to correct me, though.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I think, if it weren't for gas giants, inner planets would probably end up with way more tiny moons as well.

We would end up with A LOT more devastating life-ending impacts like the one 65 mil. years ago.

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