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Besides having two moons, dwarf planet Haumea also has a ring

12 October 2017

There's a potato-shaped dwarf planet in our solar system, and scientists have just discovered that it's got its very own ring. It seems that scientists keep discovering other objects - and not planets - that are being rounded by rings.

The study's co-author Pablo Santos Sanz suggests that a debate will continue for some time, but it is likely that it could lose dwarf planet status.

They say the dwarf planet has an unusual elongated ellipsoid shape, with axes of approximately 2,322 kilometres (1,442 miles) by 1,704 kilometres (1,059 miles) by 1,138 kilometres (707 miles), and no global atmosphere that can be detected. Pluto has a rocky core but is mostly made up of ice. It wasn't until 2008 that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially classified it as the fifth dwarf planet, gave it the name Haumea - a suggestion that came from the United States team - and left the name of its discoverer blank.

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.

Thousands of so-called Neptunian objects are located in the outer solar system.

"Dwarf planets are unique by themselves but Haumea is even more special among them", said Ortiz "It also has two moons, a large and a small one, and the larger one turns out to be in the same plane as the ring we found". The most surprising item learned was that it has rings.

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Amanda Sickafoose, an astronomer at MIT and the South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town said that the New Work printed in journal Nature recommends that ring systems in the outer solar system are quite common.

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. And it's what makes a dwarf planet a planet (according to the definition the IAU came up with), and not just a "small solar system body".

The rings could be key to figuring out Haumea's history.

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

In addition to the rings found around Chariklo, there's also evidence of a similar phenomenon around another Centaur called Chiron, although it's less clear than the Chariklo ring.

Besides having two moons, dwarf planet Haumea also has a ring