Surprising characteristics of the dwarf planet Haumea revealed by a stellar occultation

The solar system currently contains 8 planets and 5 dwarf planets. Among the 5 dwarf planets, 4 of them dwell in the transneptunian region, and among the transneptunian dwarf planets, the only one that remained poorly characterized was Haumea. This was because all other dwarf planets had been visited by spacecraft or had produced stellar occultations which allowed us to determine some of their basic physical properties with accuracy. The only dwarf planet that remained to be characterized through a stellar ocultation was Haumea. On January 21st 2017 Haumea caused a stellar occultation that we could predict accurately and that we could observe from 12 instruments on 10 observatories (which means it was the best stellar occultation ever recorded in the transneptunian region). The results from this stellar occultation by the very peculiar Haumea turned out to be remarkable. One of the clearest and easiest-to-explain results was the discovery of a ring of 70km in width, orbiting at a distance of ~2290 km from the center of this oblong dwarf planet. The ring is coplanar with the orbit of the largest moon of Haumea and the ring particles orbit in the location that corresponds to the 3:1 spin-orbit resonance with the fast-spinning Haumea. But we have made other interesting findings that we will present in this talk.

16/11/2017 - 12:30
Dr. Jose Luis Ortíz