Weird dwarf planet has one very Saturn-like feature

With the analysis in, it turns out the space rock that circles the sun beyond Pluto has a ring - the first planet discovered beyond Neptune to sport such cosmic jewellery. Haumea's oblong shape isn't the only weird thing about it, as it also has an extremely fast rotational speed, leading to a full revolution once every 3.9 hours.

Haumea is twice as long, maybe longer, in one direction as it is in the other, giving it an appearance sort of like a river rock.

Some of the most exciting new discoveries in space come from far, far away, thanks to telescopes capable of detecting exoplanets that are so distant we'd likely never be able to actually visit them, but that doesn't mean there isn't still some pretty interesting stuff here in our own Solar System.

The ring was spotted in the pattern of light from the star Haumea occluded, and the Nature paper says the rings are similar to those that surround Uranus and Neptune. The occultation that led to this revelation was a network of 12 telescopes spread across 10 locations in central Europe that watched Haumea pass between Earth and the star "URAT1 533-1825".

Interestingly, the many oddities that make Haumea such a unusual dwarf planet might be related.

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It wasn't just rings that the team were looking out for however, as it also gave astronomers an opportunity to analyse its shape, and it could be about to jeopardise its status as a dwarf planet.

"I don't know if this will change the definition [of a dwarf planet]", study co-author Pablo Santos Sanchez said, according to Space.com.

Haumea was recognised by the International Astronomical Union in 2008 and is one of five dwarf planets, alongside Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Makemake.

Unlike the icy rings of these large planets, however, Haumea's ring is believed to have been caused by a collision of some kind, and may have broken off from another object in the solar system, The Verge reported.

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