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Saturn-like rings discovered around alien world


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A Saturn-like ring system has been discovered 420 light years away in the constellation of Centaurus by astronomers using the ground-based SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) and All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS), but do the rings encompass a planet or a companion star?

The system's four defined rings stretch out tens of kilometres from the central object, and have been dubbed Rochester, Sutherland, Campanas and Tololo after the sites where the eclipsed star was first detected and analysed. The star, known as a rather lengthy 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6, is similar in mass to our own Sun, but a fraction of its age at just 16 million years.

Usually a star’s light is temporarily and periodically dimmed as a planet passes in front of it, but in this case the team observed an unusually long and deep eclipse with up to 95 percent of the star’s light being dimmed by what the team conclude is a dusty ring system.

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