(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists have made an exciting discovery regarding one of the less known members of our Solar System. A remote dwarf planet, orbiting further away than Pluto, has an incredible formation around it. The small body, called Haumea, is surrounded by at least one ring. This dwarf planet lies in the Kuiper belt, and a recent observation revealed the unusual formation which accompanies it.
The fourth ringed object in the Solar System
Haumea borrowed its name from the goddess of childbirth in the Hawaiian mythology, and sits far away in the Solar System. Scientists discovered it in 2004, and approximated it lay at 43 times the distance between our planet and the Sun. This year, on January 21st, a stellar occultation occurred, and allowed for the study of the entire Kuiper belt. Occultation occurs when a planet or dwarf planet passes in front of a star, making it easier to be studied.
Scientists used dozens of telescopes to study Haumea, and identified a ring around the planet’s equator. This ring has a width of 70 kilometers and, once every three rotations Haumea performs around its axis, the ring performs one rotation around the dwarf planet. Therefore, Haumea became the fourth planetary object in the Solar System with a ring.
The observations revealed more information about Haumea
However, Haumea is special, since it’s the first discovered ringed object situated beyond Neptune. The four big planets which have rings revolving around them are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, but Saturn’s rings are by far the biggest and most visible. Apart from them, there are two other smaller objects which also have rings. They are the Centaurs Chariklo and Chiron.
The observations performed on Haumea revealed how its ring resembles the ones surrounding Neptune and Uranus. Also, they managed to make some other discoveries, such as the dimensions of the cosmic body, its lack of atmosphere, and the presence of two moons orbiting it. All these details have been presented in a paper in the journal Nature.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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