A new study has uncovered a surprising ring of dust and debris surrounding a mini-planet called Quaoar in the Kuiper Belt of the outer solar system. Quaoar, one of the known trans-Neptunian objects, defies the laws of physics with its Saturn-like ring, which is located at an unusual distance from the planet and breaches the Roche limit, a boundary beyond which a ring’s material should no longer be held by its parent body’s gravity. The ring was discovered through a series of occultations or eclipses, and data from the European Space Agency’s exoplanet hunter, Cheops, proved that the ring’s dimming effect was not due to Earth’s atmosphere. This finding has astronomers rethinking the Roche limit or seeking another explanation for the existence of Quaoar’s ring.
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