This weirdo dwarf planet has a ring around it

Dwarf planet has a ring to it study

Dwarf planet has a ring to it study

Astronomers have discovered the first-ever dwarf planet in the Solar System to be surrounded by a ring.

In fact, all of its strangeness might be linked with Haumea and its two moons - Hi'aka and Namaka - potentially originating from a larger Haumea that was struck by something in the Kuiper Belt.

A thin band of debris circles the dwarf planet Haumea in an illustration based on the latest discovery. But Haumea is a bit different.

The new discovery led under the supervision of Jose Luis Ortiz, an astronomer at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain.

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Unlike planets we all know from science classes in school, Hauma isn't a round globe, it's shaped more like a river rock. "But it fits in perfectly with our understanding of how this remarkable dwarf planet formed". "It is also much less dense than previously thought, which answered questions that had been pending about the object". Pluto has a rocky core but is mostly made up of ice.

But Haumea's recent story goes even deeper than that; its discovery a decade ago was rooted in controversy. Two separate teams of astronomers - one led by Ortiz at the Sierra Nevada Observatory, the other led by Mike Brown at Caltech in the United States - claimed to have discovered it in close proximity to each other, leading to a dispute that delayed its official naming. It allows astronomers to determine the main physical characteristics of an object (size, shape, and density) and has been successfully applied to dwarf planets Pluto, Eris and Makemake.

To learn more about this particular dwarf planet, Ortiz and his colleagues worked out that on 12 January this year Haumea would pass in front of a distant star, known by the catchy title URAT1 533-182543, giving them the flawless opportunity to study it in more detail. The most surprising item learned was that it has rings.

The stellar backdrop took place in January this year, and the perspectives from 12 different angles enabled the team to observe the dwarf planet like never before, and gave us our first glimpse at its ring system.

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The findings are reported in Nature. But it's too soon to say for sure whether Haumea really doesn't match up to this criteria.

Its width is 70 Km and is about 1,000 kilometres away from Haumea's surface.

Named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, it is among a handful of known dwarf planets beyond the orbit of Neptune, which with the other so-called giant planets - Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter - all have rings.

Haumea is now officially known as the third body smaller than Neptune hosting rings.

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