This artist's impression shows how the rings might look from close to the surface of Chariklo. Image Credit: NASA/JPL


10199 Chariklo was found on Feb. 15, 1997 by the Spacewatch team at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.


Chariklo was the first asteroid found to have a ring system. It was the fifth ring system found in our solar system—after Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

With a diameter of about 188 miles (302 kilometers), Chariklo is the largest member of an asteroid class known as the Centaurs. It orbits between Saturn and Uranus in the outer solar system.

In 2013, scientists pointed several telescopes at the small world to study it as it passed in front of a star - an occultation—and were surprised to detect two distinct rings. By comparing what was seen from different sites the team could reconstruct not only the shape and size of the object itself but also the shape, width, orientation and other properties of the newly discovered rings. The rings are believed to be between two and four miles (3-7 kilometers) wide.

How Chariklo Got Its Name

Chariklo, sometimes described as a sea nymph, sometimes as a female centaur, was the wife of Chiron in Greek mythology.


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