Webb Telescope discovers water ice at Chariklo

In October 2022, NASA's James Webb Telescope discovered Chariklo, a tiny ringed asteroid.

By October end Webb spotted clear signs of water ice, astronomers confirmed.

These discoveries will help astronomers in understanding the nature and behavior of tiny bodies.

Chariklo is still too small and too far for even the mighty Webb to photograph directly.

Astronomers decided to study it through occultation,  an indirect method to study small bodies like Chariklo.

The team did not know if and when a star- without which an occultation would not occur- would fall into Webb's field of view.

The team calculated only a 50% chance that Webb would spot a bright enough with an interesting object like Chariklo crossing in front.

Late last year, astronomers discovered that Chariklo was on track to occult a star that also fell into Webb's view.

On Oct. 18, 2022, Chariklo and its system of two rings crossed in front of a star.

Using Webb's near-infrared camera (NIRCam), astronomers monitored the star's brightness for an hour.

The presence of crystalline ice likely indicates that Chariklo is subject to constant bombardment.