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Space Science

Scientists Discover Ring Around Dwarf Planet Haumea Beyond Neptune 49

A ring has been discovered around one of the dwarf planets that orbits the outer reaches of the solar system. Until now, ring-like structures had only been found around the four outer planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Guardian reports: "In 2014 we discovered that a very small body in the Centaurs region [an area of small celestial bodies between the asteroid belt and Neptune] had a ring and at that time it seemed to be a very weird thing," explained Dr Jose Ortiz, whose group at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia in Granada made the discovery described in the journal Nature. "We didn't expect to find a ring around Haumea, but we were not too surprised either." Haumea was recognized by the International Astronomical Union in 2008 and is one of five dwarf planets, alongside Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Makemake. They are located beyond Neptune -- 50 times farther away from the sun than Earth. Haumea, named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, is unusual because of its elongated shape, comparable to a rugby ball, and its rapid rotation, spinning around once every 3.9 hours. Its diameter is approximately a third of the size of Earth's moon.

Scientists Discover Ring Around Dwarf Planet Haumea Beyond Neptune

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  • Its pretty clearly collided with something fairly large, splashing debris all over the place, leaving it with an uneven shape, and a lot of material in orbit.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It is peer pressure.

      The little planets look at the big planets and see rings as status symbols.

      Soon there will be little moons and asteroids with fucking rings.

      Then the big planets will think rings are lame -- and do something new like giant blotchy red spots or maybe giant hexagons at the poles.

      • And of course Uranus had to have large gas clouds. But you have to hand it to him, he's a really good sport and doesn't even take the jokes about his name with good humor, no, he goes out of his way to make them possible!

      • by mi ( 197448 )
        Someone put dwarfs, ring, and a hard to get to place in one sentence and all you can think of is fashion? Really?
  • Didn't realize there were so many dwarf planets out therehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_planet
  • Ring systems had already been found around asteroid Chariklo [wikipedia.org] and Chiron [wikipedia.org]. So Haumea is the 7th object in the solar system known to have rings.

    • There's rings, and then there's RINGS. Jupiter has rings, too.

      Topic switch: seems like the hundreds of dwarf planets in the far reaches of the solar system would be an interesting setting for a future fiction universe - one without FTL travel, transporters, etc. All you would need out there is a fusion power source to replace the sun, and I'm guessing that there's plenty of water hanging around in pockets out there.

  • by ZeRu ( 1486391 )
    Presence of the ring should not be unexpected. The particles were probably launched into space from the surface because of planetoid's low gravity and fast rotation. Of course I'm assuming that the ring is perpendicular to the rotation axis.
    • I would go so far as to say ANY object probably has rings if there isn't anything to disrupt them (where anything can include 'sufficiently long periods of time').

      If you think about it, stars are like galactic rings, the Kuiper belt and asteroid belt are rings around the Sun... it's no surprise to me that something that forms from particle collisions has some leftovers spinning around it.

    • by habig ( 12787 )

      Presence of the ring should not be unexpected. The particles were probably launched into space from the surface because of planetoid's low gravity and fast rotation. Of course I'm assuming that the ring is perpendicular to the rotation axis.

      TFA says there are two small moons, one of which is in the ring plane. For the Jovian planets, the rings seem to be fed by debris from impacts on their small moons near the ring planes: so this same story seems plausible here, too.

    • The ring is above the equator. I was surprised to read the rotation period is 3.9 hours for something that large. Then I started wondering, "that's gotta create some significant (relative to gravity) centripetal force. How much would gravity be reduced if you were standing on the equator on the long axis?" Calculemus!

      Haumea (according to Wikipedia):
      Size along longest axis: 2322 km
      Mass: 4e21 kg

      Based on this we can calculate centripetal acceleration using a = v^2/r:
      v = angular velocity = 2.322e6 m * pi / 1

  • by JeffSh ( 71237 ) <jeffslashdot@@@m0m0...org> on Thursday October 12, 2017 @08:19AM (#55354839)

    article has fact errors about location of dwarf planets.

    Article states that all dwarf planets are beyond neptune but that's not true. Ceres is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. the rest of the dwarf planets are indeed in the kuiper belt beyond neptune.

  • Someone must like Haumea.

  • Make your own joke.

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