As kids, we all knew Saturn was the one planet in our solar system with rings.
Then, rings were also discovered around Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. And now a new study reports that a ring has been spotted around another object in our solar system:Â Haumea, a weird,Â egg-shaped, distant dwarf planet located beyond Neptune.
This is the first time that a ring has been discovered around such a distant body in the solar system, according to the study,Â which appeared in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.Â
âIn 2014 weÂ discovered thatÂ a very small body in the Centaurs region (an area of small celestial bodies between the asteroid belt and Neptune)Â had a ring and at that time it seemed to be a very weird thing,â study lead author JosÃ© Ortiz told The Guardian.Â âWe didnât expect to find a ring around Haumea, but we were not too surprised either.â
Ortiz is the head of the Instituto de AstrofÃsica de AndalucÃa inÂ Spain, which made the discovery. The team was able to spot the rings by usingÂ 12 telescopesÂ from 10 different laboratories on Jan. 21, 2017, as Haumea passed in front of a distant star, a process known as occultation.Â
His team said thatÂ Haumea’s ring has a width of about 43 miles and a radius of roughly 1,400 miles.Â
“There are different possible explanations for the formation of the ring; it may have originated in a collision with another object, or in the dispersal of surface material due to the planetâs high rotational speed,â Ortiz said.Â
Haumea, which spins on its axis every four hours,Â is one of the fastest-rotating objects in the solar system.
Astronomers also recently spottedÂ rings around the dwarf planets Chariklo and Chiron, which are locatedÂ between Saturn and Uranus. Unlike ordinary planets, dwarf planets are defined as being…