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Ring Around a Dwarf Planet Detected

12 Oct 2017, 21:37 UTC
Ring Around a Dwarf Planet Detected
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Haumea has a narrow and dense ring orbiting the dwarf planet according to the recent observations of a stellar occultation by this dwarf planet. Ten observatories in six European countries were involved in the research campaign. In addition, the astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and more than 50 further institutions were able to constrain the size, shape and density of Haumea. Their findings are closer to theoretical predictions and less puzzling than previous estimates.The region outside the Neptune orbit in our Solar System is teeming with interesting objects, the so-called TNOs (trans-Neptunian objects). Pluto is most prominent among the four known trans-Neptunian dwarf planets, but the astronomers are also very interested in the exotic Haumea; an elongated, fast rotating body, covered with crystalline water ice. However, many of its physical, chemical, and thermal characteristics were not well constrained so far.“Since its discovery more than ten years ago we knew that Haumea is exotic, but its properties were only poorly known. This is why we pushed for more observations by the most powerful telescopes on Earth and in space,” explains Thomas Müller from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), who led one of the project ...

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