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. Unfortunately, the astronomers have no clue, because the way rings form around giant planets don't seem to mirror how a ring formed around Haumea.
Ortiz's team has put together a YouTube visualisation of the rings, below.
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Astronomers believe there's another dwarf planet surrounded by objects orbiting in the space. Scientifically, this is fascinating. "We'll be doing a great deal of studying and preparation". 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. When Haumea passed in front of a star called URAT1 533-182543 on January 21 of this year, scientists were able to view the dwarf planet with 12 telescopes from ten different labs. In fact, Haumea crosses Pluto's orbit just as Pluto crosses Neptune's orbit.
Though unexpected, it wasn't a huge surprise, Ortiz says. The collision also left behind a few small moons and a trail of debris. "The authors' results suggest that Haumea might not be in hydrostatic equilibrium, and this touches on the still-sensitive topic of how planets and dwarf planets should be defined", writes Amanda Sickafoose, an astronomer at MIT, in an accompanying article also published in Nature today.
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Ortiz adds that the use of occultation to find of a ring around Haumea may help others detect rings around similar far-flung objects, and that perhaps Haumea's elongated shape and fast rate of spin are important clues. As much as planetary scientists are fascinated by this discovery, they claim that they had already kind of assumed the ring's presence on the exotic planet. 10199 Chariklo, which is the largest of a class of objects called "centaurs" hiding out between Saturn and Uranus, has a ring, as does fellow centaur 2060 Chiron. And for some reason, a significant part of them have rings. "For the New Horizons flyby, this is probably not an issue, although it should indeed be considered".
There's a potato-shaped dwarf planet in our solar system, and scientists have just discovered that it's got its very own ring.
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The specifics to how Haumea dimmed the light of that distant star would be perfectly explained by a semi-transparent ring with a width of 70km and a radius of 2287km. Image from footage by Jose Maria Madiedo and Jose Luis Ortiz.