Oddball dwarf planet Haumea has a ring | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

REAL SCIENCE. REAL NEWS.

Help us keep you informed.

Support Science News.


News

Oddball dwarf planet Haumea has a ring

It’s the first object past Neptune in the solar system known to have debris circling it

By
1:00pm, October 11, 2017
Haumea's ring illustrated

RING AROUND THE DWARF PLANET  Haumea’s ring, shown in this artist’s illustration, revealed itself by momentarily blocking the light of a distant star.

Haumea can do the hula-hoop. The egg-shaped dwarf planet is the first object beyond Neptune to be spotted sporting a ring of particles.

“It now appears that rings can be common in the outer solar system,” says Jose-Luis Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Granada, Spain.

On January 21, Ortiz and colleagues used 12 telescopes at 10 observatories to peer into the Kuiper Belt, a region of icy objects beyond the orbit of Neptune, and watch Haumea block the light of a distant star. That tiny eclipse let the team measure the dwarf planet’s size, shape and surrounding environment more accurately than ever before.

Haumea turned out to be larger — its long axis stretches at least 2,322 kilometers, a bit more than half the width of the contiguous United States — and less dense than previously thought, the team reports October 11 in Nature. To their

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content