April 28, 2017
The most famous rings in the solar system encircle Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter, but they’re not the only planetary jewelry. Chariklo may be small by comparison—in cross-section it’s about the size of Sri Lanka—but the minor planet, known as a “centaur,” has two little rings of its own. Those rings also just so happen to be the perfect size for learning more about how ring systems form. A team of scientists from Japan has developed the first complete simulation of a ring system, and their model shows Chariklo’s rings may be short-lived.