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A Dwarf Planet 'Haumea' Is Discovered Beyond the Orbit of Neptune

12 October 2017

Haumea, named after a Hawaiian goddess, orbits just past Neptune and has two moons, called Hiʻiaka and Namaka. She also reiterated that we can intercept supplemental ring associated discoveries in the future.

Width of the ring of the dwarf planet Haumea is located 70 km radius - 2287 km.

Because these comparatively miniature bodies are eons away and are hard to perceive them from even the most advanced telescope.

The observations of Haumea were made with twelve different telescopes from ten observatories. We now know it has a 70km-wide ring orbiting around its equator, 2,000km away from the planet itself. This marks the third instance in the last few years were a ring was discovered around an object that's technically not a planet.

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 USA team - and left the name of its discoverer blank.

Haumea's ring has a radius of almost 1,500 miles, the team discovered, and it moves very slowly in contrast with its host planet. In fact, it might be taken out of the "dwarf planets list" that the astronomers composed. At that moment, using 12 telescopes from 10 different laboratories, the researchers could see that the dwarf planet was joined with other materials.

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 incredible trend in the characteristics of these faraway, mysterious minor planets.

Beyond the orbit of Neptune there are hundreds or even thousands of mysterious dwarf planets, most of which we know nearly nothing about - but there's a lot to learn when we catch a rare glimpse. 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. And for some reason, a significant part of them have rings. "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.