Tag Archives: Gas giant

NEWS: FIRST RINGED ASTEROID IDENTIFIED


First Ringed Asteroid Identified

An asteroid orbiting the Sun between Saturn and Uranus has become the first asteroid identified as having rings. Until now, this feature had only been observed around the four gas giants, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. The 154-mile (248-km) asteroid, Chariklo, appears to have two distinct rings—one 4.3 miles (7 km) wide and the other 1.9 miles (3 km) wide—separated by a gap of about 5.6 miles (9 km). Given the rings’ crisp edges, astronomers suspect that Chariklo also has at least one moon, though none have yet been discovered. More… Discuss

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Hail Yes!

Forget the Emerald City; on Saturn and Jupiter it is all about the diamonds. A team of US researchers is positing that lightning storms in the gas giants’ upper atmospheres turn methane into soot, which hardens into graphite and then diamond as it falls. Tons of diamondhailstones may rain down on the planets each year, and while most are likely about a centimeter in diameter, some could best be described as “diamondbergs.” Alas, these sparklers are not “forever.” As the diamonds reach certain depths, the pressure and temperature become so great that they likely melt into a liquid carbon sea. More… Discuss