A few days ago, we teased that we have an exciting result to share with you. Here it is!

On June 3rd, Chariklo — the largest object between Saturn and Uranus — passed in front of a relatively bright star. It cast a shadow across South America.

A collaboration of telescopes — including Skynet’s PROMPT telescopes in Chile — timed the occultation of the star by Chariklo, hoping to use the data to better measure Chariklo’s size and shape:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature13155_SF1.html

But when we analyzed the data, we were surprised to find that something also dimmed the light before, and again after, the main occultation. Two moons?
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature13155_F1.html

No, because we saw these additional occultations at each telescope — each under a different part of the shadow:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature13155_SF3.html

Putting everyone’s data together, it was clear that we had discovered a ring — two rings actually!
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature13155_F2.html

This is the first detection of rings around a solar-system body other than the four gas giants — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

For more information on Chariklo:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=546160778763555

For the press release:
http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1410/

For the full scientific article, in Nature:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13155.html

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