If Saturn had the other planet’s rings, we’d be able to see them in our sky alongside the moon!
1. Astronomers say they’ve found a new exoplanet with a ring system 200 times bigger than Saturn, BBC News reports.
This artist’s rendition shows what the rings would look like around the planet J1407b, which is about 434 light-years away. In the new analysis to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, the U.S. and Dutch scientists posit that at least 30 rings surround the exoplanet, which is a planet that orbits a star outside our solar system.
Discovered in 2012, it’s the first ring system outside of ours. Like Saturn’s rings, a gap in the rings might indicate the formation of a satellite. Saturn currently has 53 moons with nine awaiting confirmation — and the potential birth of a new one may add another tally.
2. If Saturn’s rings were replaced with those from J1407b, they would be even bigger than the moon in our sky.
The rings would be about 14 times the diameter of the moon, to be exact, and we could probably see them during the day. The researchers estimate that the planet is between 10 to 40 times the size of Jupiter. (To give you a sense of that grandiosity, if Earth were a nickel, Jupiter would be a basketball, according to NASA.)
The finding is a part of the United Kingdom’s SuperWASP observatory, which depends on celestial objects to pass in front of their star to collect data. Light flickers through the debris in the rings, which Discover magazine likens to sunlight in the windows of a moving train or bus.
This particular planet’s eclipses lasted for almost two months, causing its 16-million-year-old host star to dim on and off, lead researcher Matthew Kenworthy told BBC News. You can watch a little video of the exoring mapping here.