This Potato-Shaped Dwarf Planet Has Got A Ring Around It

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Haumea, on the other hand, is roughly six times bigger than Chariklo, making it way smaller than our Moon but now the fifth-largest object in the solar system to have a ring, after Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

The peculiar dwarf planet Haumea has just gotten more peculiar with the discovery of some faint rings around it.

The discovery, led by astronomer Jose Luis Ortiz from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain, took more than a little coordination to pull off. This dwarf planet is a third of the size of Pluto, has a weird, elongated shape, and rotates once every four hours.

It is estimated that the rings could be as wide as 70km and encircles the planet at a distance of around 1,000km from its surface. As a result, the team was able to pick up certain things about the dwarf planet, including the possibility of having a ring. The total number of officially recognised dwarf planets is now five, but some astronomers argue there could be hundreds of objects in the solar system that fit the definition.

The authors of the new research with 12 European telescopes observed for the dwarf planet at a time as she passed in front of the star URAT1 533-182543. They got 10 Earth-based observatories ready, and on that night all pointed their telescopes towards the same patch of sky to learn as much as they could. The event that marked the presence of a ring-like structure was noted in the telescopes; before and after Haumea blotted out the star, the telescopes also saw the starlight slightly fade out again.Scientists also predict that the use of occultation to find a ring around Haumea may help others detect rings around similar distant objects. But it's too soon to say for sure whether Haumea really doesn't match up to this criteria.

Aside from those instances, the Haumea ring is the first time we've detected this, so we're in some pretty unfamiliar territory - but the researchers hint we may be about to observe an unbelievable trend in the characteristics of these faraway, mysterious minor planets.

Haumea's ring was discovered by an global team of astronomers operating on an ongoing program to designate Trans-Neptunian Objects or objects that are distant from the sun than Neptune. And we don't yet know how common features like it are either. Saturn's rings, for example partly came from Enceladus, one of its 53 moons.

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