back to article Someone liked dwarf planet Haumea so much they put a ring on it

Back in January, a Spanish-led group of astroboffins turned telescopes skywards to watch an occultation of dwarf planet Haumea, and got a surprise. 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. The …

  1. frank ly Silver badge


    It's believed to have a rotational period of just under four hours, so I wonder if it's impossible to stand on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mugshots

      I'd guess the triaxial elipsoid surface is a gravitational equipotential surface as well, meaning gravity is always normal to the local surface, altho not the same strength everywhere. So yes, you could stand. Might get dizzy tho...

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Mugshots

      In a mathematical sense, sure you could but really really *only just* - the escape velocity is listed as 0.91 km/s and based on the largest diameter given and the 4-hour period, something at the equator is doing almost exactly 0.5 km/s; considering escape velocity is supposed to be square root of two times circular orbit velocity at the same radius, you need only 0.64 km/s to stay in orbit, so... don't cough, or you're floating away...

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    One thing is sure

    The universe is more varied and majestic than we can probably imagine.

    Go astro-boffins!

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: One thing is sure

      Reality in general, when you delve down to the small things whether at CERN or with a powerful microscope or a genetics database wonders appear unguessed at and certainly not in any holy book. The things I have seen as a mere biologist.

      Not of biological import and artefacts of sectioning amorphous structures but I have large format negative plates of sections through developing mouse muscle in the electron microscope where the nuclei if the new muscle fibres (termed myotubes back then) resemble animals. I have a duck, rubber variety, swimming in an egg shaped cell, a rhino, a goldfish with flowing fins and others. By chance they were all found in mutant muscle not control muscle so they are my Micro Mutant Muscle Menagerie.

      I've used the duck in talks I go 'and this is a maturing secondary myotube, notice this and that' pause 'and it is also a duck in an egg' which allows the audience to laugh.

  3. Paul Cooper

    Hal Clement fans!

    Did anyone else think "Crikey, they've found Mesklin?"

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Hal Clement fans!

      Nope! Haumea has almost no mass and little surface gravity while Mesklin is huge and the prime fictional example of a heavy planet.

      Mesklin has 16 times the mass of Jupiter and a rotation time (day) of 17.75 minutes. The centrifugal force affected its apparent surface gravity, giving 3G at the equator (rim) and 275G at the poles. It is well flattened - 77,250 km diameter at the equator and just 31,770 km thick at the poles, so its diameter is around 2.5 times its thickness. Clement knew what he wanted for his novel: when he wrote it there was thought to be something like this in the 61 Cygni system.

      1. Paul Cooper

        Re: Hal Clement fans!

        Well, yes, I knew all that - but the images are just like the images Clement published in his essay on Mesklin.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Ortiz's team has put together a YouTube visualisation of the rings"

    ... but ... where's the PlayMobil?

  5. Unep Eurobats

    J L Ortiz, a minor planet specialist

    I know they're unfashionable, but there's a case for the strategic deployment of a hyphen here, Shirley?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: J L Ortiz, a minor planet specialist

      I dunno... sending the kids to another planet does have a certain charm to it.

      Mine's the one coated in glitter and stickers

  6. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Acceptable comparisons

    Are there any guidelines on when to compare an astronomical body with a) an egg, b) a river stone, c) a potato?

  7. enormous c word

    Shirley or surely

    I keep seeing the name "Shirley" where people mean "surely" - is this just a common typo, or am I missing some subtly humorous reference to the old Airplane movies that most people have forgotten about now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shirley or surely

      The reference will live on long after any human recollection of the film has ever existed. The reference now has a life of it's own, bigger than the film.

    2. ravenviz

      Re: Shirley or surely

      See endless references to Douglas Adams, overlords and nanoWaleses, and dissing Americans.

  8. Robert Moore

    Planet of Ace Rimmers

    As soon as I saw the rings I knew it has to be the final resting place of all the Ace Rimmers.

    Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.

    Or alternately:

    Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas.

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