Universe Today – Rings are a tough phenomenon to spot. As late as 1977, astronomers thought that the only thing in the solar system with rings was the planet Saturn. Now, we can add the first asteroid to the list of ringed bodies nearby us. The asteroid 10199 Chariklo hosts two rings, perhaps due to a collision that caused a chain of debris circling its tiny surface.
Artist’s impression of what the rings of the asteroid Chariklo would look like from the small body’s surface. The rings’ discovery was a first for an asteroid. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)
Universe Today – Comet Siding Spring, on its way to a close brush with Mars on October 19, has been kicking up a storm lately. New images from Hubble Space Telescope taken on March 11, when the comet was just this side of Jupiter, reveal multiple jets of gas and dust.
Nextbigfuture – Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the observations of the object — possibly a dwarf planet — were obtained and analyzed with a grant from NASA. A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape. Both Sedna and 2012 VP113 were found near their closest approach to the sun, but they both have orbits that go out to hundreds of AU, at which point they would be too faint to discover. The similarity in the orbits found for Sedna, 2012 VP113 and a few other objects near the edge of the Kuiper Belt suggests the new object’s orbit might be influenced by the potential presence of a yet unseen planet perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth. Further studies of this deep space arena will continue.