Ring discovered around dwarf planet beyond Neptune

Dwarf planet has a ring to it study

Astronomers discovered the first-known "egg" that later became an official dwarf planet, called "Haumea" to have unexpected thin ring-like bands made up of particles and debris, circling around it. This dwarf planet is a third of the size of Pluto, has a weird, elongated shape, and rotates once every four hours. The scientists expect to discover more rings as research continues. The new information could cost Haumea its dwarf planet status. Oritz says there is more than one possible answer to that question. Two separate teams of astronomers - one led by Ortiz at the Sierra Nevada Observatory, the other led by Mike Brown at Caltech in the U.S. - claimed to have discovered it in close proximity to each other, leading to a dispute that delayed its official naming. In 2006, it was revealed that some of them could be as large as Pluto, which led the International Astronomical Union to create the category of dwarf planets.

The finding of rings also suggests that Haumea might have been hit with something not long ago, at least in terms of space, possibly between 700m and 1bn years ago.

The number of ringed solar objects seems to be increasing in the outer realm of the solar system. Jose Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain said that it is regrettable that even with the most enormous telescopes on Earth, or the Hubble Space Telescope, we can not see the details of Haumea, than a dot of light.

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"It shows that the presence of rings could be much more common than was previously thought, in our solar system as well as in other planetary systems".

Part of what Ortiz and his colleagues found might throw a spanner in the works for Haumea's classification as a dwarf planet, though. According to the study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, there is a collection of icy dwarf planets called trans-Neptunian objects, or TNOs. But it's too soon to say for sure whether Haumea really doesn't match up to this criteria.

But Haumea's ring is the first time astronomers have witnessed the phenomenon in a minor planet that isn't a Centaur. But as for how it formed, we don't yet know. She also reiterated that we can intercept supplemental ring associated discoveries in the future.

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