Astronomers were able to determine the incredible details from this observation, including information about the shape of the rings, orientation and width. There are two clearly defined rings with a width of 7 kilometers (4.3 km) and 3 kilometers (1, 9 miles), separated by a 9 km (5, 6 mile) gap. The rings were given the nickname Oiapoque and Chuí, in honor of two rivers in Brazil. The gap between the rings and their shape suggests the presence of a small satellite in the asteroid's orbit.
Having announced on Wednesday, astronomers, using several observatories in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, discovered the asteroid Hariklo, which has two different ring systems. In this artistic illustration, you can see the features of the asteroid's surface, hidden from us by dust rings.
So far, ring systems have been discovered around Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. This is the first small celestial body with a ring system.
As seen from the surface of the asteroid, the ring system can look pretty impressive, reflected from weak sunlight. 20 kilometers wide, the ring system is 1,000 times closer than the moon relative to the earth.
The ring system was discovered when an asteroid passed in front of a distant star, blocking its light from view. Astronomers received much more information than they expected during this celestial dance. As predicted, the asteroid blocked the light from the star for a few seconds. But immediately before and after this event, there was a slight and unexpected extinction in the brightness of the starlight. These additional vibrations were interpreted as a dusty ring system around the asteroid Chariklo.
The eclipse was predicted and detected using the 2.2-meter MPG / ESO telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory. To get the best detail of this event, many South American telescopes took part in this company.