Why Don’t We Have Rings?

This is almost embarrassing.  Saturn has rings, Jupiter has rings, Uranus, Neptune all have rings…and now even some asteroids have rings.


Scientists have discovered that the asteroid Chariklo, all 258km wide asteroid Chariklo, has a ring system (the graphic above is old, the 258km is correct).

Artist's impression of of Chariklo and rings

In fact Chariklo has at least two ring that were observed when it occulted a star recently.

Image credit Zane B. Stein

Chariklo is about 1AU inside the orbit of Uranus and is estimated to have an orbital half-life of about 10.3 Million years.


So the question still remains: Why doesn’t the Earth have rings.  Well, some believe that we can blame it on the Moon.  The gravitational interaction between the Earth and Moon would make any ring material unstable and, eventually, all the particles would fall to the surface of one or the other.  Dang you Moon!  I could have had a view that would have been spectacular!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +