Using computer simulations, NASA scientists pieced together the story of how Haumea, a dwarf planet found in the Kuiper belt of icy worlds beyond the orbit of the outermost planet Neptune, became one of the largest unusual objects in the solar system. became a.
Haumea is odd in several ways about Pluto’s size. It rotates faster than any that size, rotating on its axis in just over four hours.
As detailed by NASA, due to its rapid spin, Haumea is shaped like an empty soccer ball rather than a sphere.
Its surface, composed largely of water ice, is unlike almost any other surface in the Kuiper belt, except for a dozen of its “siblings” whose orbits are similar to Haumea’s and appear to be related to it. form the only known “family”. , , Objects in the Kuiper Belt.
Haumea is too far away to measure accurately using Earth-based telescopes, and no space mission has yet visited it, so data is sparse.
As NASA elaborated, to study Haumea, scientists use computer models to make predictions that fill in the gaps.
The researchers began by inputting just three pieces of information into their model: Haumea’s estimated size and mass, and its brief four-hour “day.”
The models provide a refined prediction of Haumea’s size, its overall density, and the density and shape of its core, among other features.
With the information available, the team sought to simulate billions of years of evolution to see what combination of features would evolve a baby Haumea into the mature dwarf planet it is today.
As detailed by NASA, scientists theorize that the baby Haumea was 3% more massive than the family members that were once a part of it. They also recognized that Humia had a different turnover rate and was larger in volume.
They then varied these features a little at a time in their models, such as adjusting Haumea’s size up or down, and ran dozens of simulations to see how small changes affected Haumea’s growth during its early years. will do.
When the simulation produced results that closely resembled real Haumea, the scientists knew they had arrived at a story that matched reality.
Based on their model, the experts hypothesized that Haumea collided with another object when the planets were forming and everything was moving around the solar system.
family of planets
As detailed by NASA, they say such a powerful impact would have thrown pieces of Haumea into more widely spaced orbits than the members of the family.
The Humane family we see today came later, when the structure of the dwarf planet was taking shape.
Meanwhile, Haumea’s rocks, which like all rocks are slightly radioactive, generate heat that melts some of the ice, creating an ocean beneath the surface.
Text with information from NASA