Asteroid with Rings – level 3
Chariklo, which people can consider either a giant asteroid or a minor planet, had a surprise in store for scientists when they discovered that it had Saturn-like rings.
As it is around 250 kilometres wide, it is the smallest known object to have such rings. People thought that they could only form around much bigger planets, such as Saturn or Neptune.
The astronomers only noticed the rings when the asteroid moved in front of a star, casting a shadow the size of South America, which inspired them to take a closer look. They do not yet know how the rings formed, although one theory suggests, that they are made up of ice, pebbles and other debris from a massive collision in space.
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