Researchers discover the fourth dwarf planet with ring

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Scientists have also previously identified two rings around an object called Chariklo, one of a population of small minor planets called Centaurs that orbit the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune. 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.

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.

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.

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Unlike planets we all know from science classes in school, Hauma isn't a round globe, it's shaped more like a river rock. This marks the third instance in the last few years were a ring was discovered around an object that's technically not a planet. Two separate teams of astronomers - one led by Ortiz at the Sierra Nevada Observatory, the other led by Mike Brown at Caltech in the United States - claimed to have discovered it in close proximity to each other, leading to a dispute that delayed its official naming.

Centaurs, which have unstable orbits, are considered large comets, not planets, which means this is the first observation of a ring around a dwarf planet. As a result, the team was able to pick up certain things about the dwarf planet, including the possibility of having a ring.

Two minor planets closer than Neptune have rings: the 250-km-wide Chariklo and Chiron, both orbiting "between the asteroid belt and Kuiper belt", the Planetary Society says. The total number of officially recognised dwarf planets is now five, but some astronomers argue there could be hundreds of objects in the solar system that fit the definition.

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Researchers from 10 different labs observed Haumea with 12 different telescopes across Europe as it passed in front of a star called URAT1 533-182543 - an event astronomers called an occultation.

The occultation also provided the team with our best analysis yet of Haumea's size and shape, which the researchers describe as "very exotic".

Haumea's ring is less reflective than the dwarf planet's bright water ice surface, suggesting it is made up of a mixture of rock and ice. And for some reason, a significant part of them have rings.

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