"The details that we see in the light curve are incredible," said Matthew Kenworthy, of Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and lead author of the study. "The eclipse lasted for several weeks, but you see rapid changes on time scales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings.
"The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly, but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn's rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon."
GALLERY: The Most Horrific Alien Planets In Our Galaxy
According to co-author Eric Mamajek, of the University of Rochester, New York, the exoplanet is far more massive than Saturn or Jupiter and the ring system is 200 times larger than Saturn's - around 120 million kilometers (75 million miles) wide. "You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn," he said.
"(W)e see the rings blocking as much as 95 percent of the light of this young Sun-like star for days, so there is a lot of material there that could then form satellites," added Mamajek, estimating that there is approximately 1-Earth mass-worth of finely ground material inside J1407b's rings.