Astronomers are baffled by a ringed object in our solar system: the dwarf planet Quaoar | Sciences

Illustration of the dwarf planet Quaoar. Photo: National Observatory of Brazil

An object beyond Neptune has astronomers intrigued by two strange rings, both of which were discovered only recently thanks to new observations from Earth and space. It comes to vials Dwarf planet candidate 1,000 km in diameter.

The new features discovered around Quaoar, which are detailed in the journals Nature and Astronomy & Astrophysics, could force a rethink of theories of planet formation.

Rings that shouldn’t exist

Quaoar rings baffle astronomers because they lie outside the Roche limit, the maximum distance that particles can orbit an object without clumping together.

This means that within Roche limits, the gravitational pull of the central body is sufficient to keep particles from disintegrating around it. Beyond that, they should be freer They are held together by their own gravity and form a moon.

For an object like Quaoar, the limit is estimated to be 1,780 km from the center of the object, but its two rings are farther apart: 2,520 km and 4,100 km.

In the solar system, the dwarf planets Chariko and Haumea, as well as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, are the only planets with rings. Everything that meets Rosh limit.

Quaoar is located in the Kuiper Belt, a disk populated by thousands of sun-orbiting objects from the outer solar system. They are as old as our star, which is why scientists consider their study important for understanding the origins of our cosmic neighborhood.

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Lovell Loxley

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