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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Newly-discovered planet has rings TWO HUNDRED TIMES BIGGER than those of Saturn

I won't apologize for the all-caps there.  I mean, we are talking about something of monstrous proportions here...

Four hundred-some light years away is the recently-discovered exoplanet J1407b.  Its parent star kept blinking in and out of view.  Astro-boffins went to work on the case, doing analysis of light patterns and spectroscopy and all kinds of stuff like that.

What they found is that J1407b, a young planet with about 40-50 Jupiter masses, boasts a massive, MASSIVE ring system.  One that is more than 200 times larger than the one Saturn has.

Here's what it might look like...

See that teeny dot?  That's meant to be J1407b.  Mind you, this is a planet already with 40 times more mass than Jupiter.  See those rings?  They're spread out over 120 million kilometers of diameter's worth of disk.

If J1407b was located where Saturn is in our solar system, not only would the ring system be very easily visible from the Earth, it would be significantly larger than the full Moon.

And yet, it's been calculated that this system of rings is made up of about the same amount of material as the Earth has.  Which is comparably small in the cosmic scheme of things.

Just when you think you can't imagine anything else, here is something confirming that, yes... there are things that we could not have imagined out there.

Mash here for more about J1407b, how it was discovered and all that jazz.