Exoring J1407B - Moons in Creation

Exoring J1407B - Moons in Creation

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Astronomers have found something intriguing orbiting the sunlike star 1SWASP J1407, 420 light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus. This object appears to be a vast ring system. At 120 million km across it is more than 200 times wider than the rings of Saturn. The system of more than 30 rings is probably an 'exoring' - an accretion disc around an as-yet undetected planet or brown dwarf. Within the rings, satellites may well be in the process of formation. The Galilean moons of Jupiter - Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa - are thought to have formed around that planet in a similar way, hewn from a vast disc of gas, dust and ice.

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