The Quaoar ring, one of the great mysteries of the Solar System studied by scientists

It is not a planet, it is not a dwarf planet and it is not a satellite either. Quaoar’s ring is a minor body in the Solar System, which means that it is part of the family that includes most of the asteroids that orbit beyond the orbit of Neptune and also comets.

Quaoar has been listed as one of the great mysteries of the universe. In fact, a report from The country He calls it “anyone”. Its size is 555 km in radius, slightly smaller than Earth’s iron core.

It was the Satellite for the Characterization of Exoplanets, Cheops, of the European Space Agency (ESA, for its acronym in English) that discovered this interesting world, which is part of the nearly 3,000 smaller bodies that orbit the Sun, beyond from Neptune, and is the seventh largest.

In addition, it has a moon called Weywot with a radius of just 80 km and orbiting Quaoar 13,320 km away. But more interesting than the satellite is the recently discovered planetary ring, interesting because it is not only the third example of a ring around a small body that has been found in the Solar System (Centaurus Chariklo and de Haumea the other two) but also because the ring is not where expected.

Quaoar’s Mysterious Ring

This dense ring is a mystery because all the material that makes it up should have condensed, forming a small moon, something that did not happen. A release of the ESA indicates: “The first results suggest that Quaoar’s frigid temperatures may prevent the icy particles from sticking together, but more research is needed.”

These findings call into question the Roche limit, which is the smallest distance that an orbiting body can be from a larger body and remain whole by virtue of its gravitational cohesion alone. An example of this is all of Saturn’s rings, which lie within that boundary.

Giovanni Bryno, an expert at the INAF Astrophysical Observatory of Catania, Italy, explained: “As a result of our observations, the classical notion that dense rings survive only within the Roche limit of a planetary body needs to be thoroughly revised.”

“So what’s so intriguing about this discovery around Quaoar is that the ring of material is much further away than the Roche limit,” he added.