New dwarf planet discovered


Ellen Heitmann, Copy Editor

As of October 2019, a previously discovered asteroid by the name of Hygiea has been labeled as a dwarf planet. Recently, scientists were able to estimate the size and shape of the planet much more accurately, and they decided it fit the qualifications of a dwarf planet. Hygiea is now the smallest dwarf planet in our solar system at about four hundred and thirty kilometers wide and can be found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Within the belt, it is the fourth largest object and was previously the least studied out of those four. 

To meet the requirements of being a dwarf planet, the object in question must have rounded shape formed by its own gravity, not be a moon, orbit around the sun, and it must not have swept its orbital path clear of other various space rocks. Hygiea was able to fulfill all the restrictions, having recently been discovered to be just about spherical. It’s rotation and orbital cycle were also found to be very different from previous estimates. One day on Hygiea is a mere thirteen point eight hours.

Hygiea was formed billions of years ago when a hundred kilometer wide rock shattered the new dwarf planet’s parent body. Various pieces from the collision were able to piece back together to form Hygiea, giving it a circular and smooth shape with two discovered craters. Overall, Hygiea was proven to be very different from what scientists had assumed in order to meet the qualifications, and makes a great addition to the solar system as the smallest new dwarf planet.