Anomalous ring found near a dwarf planet in the solar system

An international team of researchers announced the discovery of an unusual ring system around a dwarf planet

Quaoar is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects. The distance between the planet and its ring contradicts the existing theories of the formation of such systems.

Planetary scientists observed Quaoar with the help ofsensitive high-speed HiPERCAM camera mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias telescope. The planet's ring is so faint and small that it cannot be directly observed with a telescope. The discovery was made during the passage of the planet across the disk of the background star.

The eclipse of the star by the planet lasted less than a minute, but before and after it there were dips in the glow of the star. They corresponded to the moments when the ring objects blocked the light.

Researchers note the unique distance betweenQuaoar and its rings: they are removed from the planet at a distance exceeding seven of its radii. That's almost twice the Roche limit, the maximum distance at which ring systems were previously thought to exist. It is believed that it is the proximity to the planet that protects the rings from growing together into a large satellite.

Artistic illustration of the Roche limit for the planet Quaoar and the actual location of the ring. Image: Paris Observatory

There are other planets in the solar systemrings, although they are rare. Planetologists know about the rings of the giant planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, as well as two minor planets - Chariklo and Haumea. In all these cases, the Roche limit is satisfied. For example, the main ring of Saturn is located at a distance of only three radii of the planet from it.

The researchers note that the discovery of a new system of rings requires a search for a new explanation of how it formed and why it survived.

Read more:

Scientists transplanted human “brain” into rats and told what happened in the end

Two photos of the Earth with a difference of 50 years were compared at NASA: what scientists found

Found a rare planet, very similar to the Earth. She is close to us

On the cover: an artistic illustration of the rings of a dwarf planet. Image: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO