Astronomers say they have discovered a planet with a gigantic ring system that is 200 times larger than that around Saturn. This is the first time that such a structure has been found around a planet beyond our Solar System.
What the ring system could look like up close
Researchers say that there are likely more than 30 rings with each one likely tens of millions of miles in diameter. There are gaps in between the rings which is where material may have come together to form some sort of planet, like a moon.
The rings were found in data gathered by the SuperWASP observatory, which has equipment that can detect distant planets by monitoring their parent stars and watch for the star to dim. This suggests that something has moved in front of this star, most likely a planet of some kind. In this case, astronomers saw a series of eclipses lasting for nearly 2 months. Over time, they ruled out that it was the result of many planets passing in front of the star because the dimming light was very irregular. They have found that planets give a regular dim of a certain time period depending on the size of the planet. In this case, the light was flickering, leading astronomers to this conclusion.
If the newly discovered ring system was around Saturn, then it would be visible to the naked eye from Earth and may look like something in the artist's illustration below.