EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / FELIPE BRAGA RIBAS / M. KORNMESSER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / FELIPE BRAGA RIBAS / M. KORNMESSER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Occultation of a star by the Centaur asteroid 10199 Chariklo as it passes in front of it. In addition to the main drop in brightness of star UCAC4 248-108672, there are two further dips, before and after, which led to the discovery of a ring system around the asteroid. The announcement was made on 26th March 2014 based on observations made on 3rd June 2013. The two very narrow rings, three and seven kilometres wide, are separated by nine kilometres. The rings have a diameter of 782 and 810 kilometres, thus orbit very close to the surface of the asteroid, which has an effective diameter of 250 kilometres. This is the first time a ring system has been seen around a minor planet. It is thought that the debris forming the rings is the result of a collision between two bodies, and their structure implies the presence of a small shepherd moon or moons to stabilise their shape. Chariklo is the largest of the Centaur asteroids, and orbits between Saturn and Uranus, some 2.5 billion kilometres from the Sun.
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