A Saturn-Like Ring Found on Dwarf Planet Quaoar

Astronomers made a groundbreaking discovery in the outer reaches of our solar system when they found a Saturn-like ring of dust and debris around a dwarf planet named Quaoar. Named after a god of creation in Native American mythology, Quaoar was discovered in 2002 and is one of the trans-Neptunian objects.

A study published in the journal Nature revealed that this mini-planet, Quaoar, has a ring that goes against the laws of physics. According to the study, all known dense rings were located close enough to their parent bodies, inside the Roche limit. The Roche limit is a place where tidal forces prevent material with reasonable densities from becoming a satellite. Weighing a White Dwarf: Einstein’s Theory Confirmed.

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However, the ring around Quaoar is different as it is outside its classical Roche limit, with an estimated radius of 555 km and a roughly 80-km satellite. Astronomer Bruno Morgado, lead author of the study, exclaimed “This is the discovery of a ring located in a place that should not be possible.”

The study found that the Roche limit cannot determine where ring material can survive. Astronomer and study co-author Isabella Pagano stated, “We do not have hints at the moment on how the Quaoar ring formed.” Ring systems may come from the formation process of the central body or from material captured after a collision with another body. The discovery of Quaoar’s ring opens up new possibilities for our understanding of ring systems in the universe.

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