Gigantic ring system much larger, heavier than Saturn’s

Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered an enormous ringed planet with rings 200 times larger than Saturn. The planet, named J1407b, would appear larger than the moon and dominate the night sky if it were in our solar system.

“If we could replace Saturn’s rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon,” said Matthew Kenworthy from the Netherlands’ Leiden Observatory.

Gigantic Super Saturn Discovered

Artist’s conception of the ring system circling the young giant planet or brown dwarf J1407b. Credit: Ron Miller

“Astronomer Eric Mamajek at the University of Rochester and his co-author from the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system – the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system – was discovered in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.” – rochester.edu

If Saturn had the same size rings as J1407b, the rings might look like this:

Gigantic ring system is 123 million kilometers in diameter

The astronomers analyzed data from the SuperWASP project – a survey that is designed to detect gas giants that move along their parent star. In 2012, Eric Mamajek and colleagues (University of Rochester) reported the discovery of the young star J1407 and its unusual eclipses. It was assumed that the eclipses were caused by a moon-forming disk around a young giant planet or a brown dwarf.

In the recent study led by Kenworthy, direct observations with adaptive optics and Doppler spectroscopy were used to estimate the mass of the ringed object. Their conclusions based on these and previous publications are intriguing. System J1407 contains a giant ring system that repeatedly blocks the light of the star over a period of about two months (56 days).

After detailed analyzed of the light curve, astronomers came to the surprising conclusion that the diameter of the ring system is about 123 million kilometers, more than a hundred times as large as the rings of Saturn.

Eric Mamajek said, “There is probably at least one earth mass of material are present in the rings, and more material may be in the satellites that provide the substructure of the ring.”

Translated from Astronomie.Nl

Exoring model for J1407b from Matthew Kenworthy on Vimeo.

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