Researchers of far space make sometimesthe most amazing discoveries in our "home" solar system. Using the ESO SPHERE telescope, the Hygiea asteroid was discovered in space, many of the characteristics of which are inherent in dwarf planets. Thus, Hygiea may be the smallest planet in our solar system.
Geometric dimensions put Hygiea on the fourthplace in the asteroid belt. More Hygiea only Ceres, Vesta and Pallas. Moreover, the discovered celestial body has the correct geometric shape of the ball, which is one of the main characteristics of the planets. Hygiea also revolves around the Sun and has its own gravity, and also is not a satellite of any planets.
The discovery was made possible by modernpowerful telescope and adaptive-optical instrument of the new generation SPHERE, which allows to obtain high-quality and detailed image of the asteroid belt.
The new planet Hygiea has a diameter of 430 km. Moreover, the previous planet with the status of the smallest was Ceres with a diameter of 950 km. The more famous Pluto has a diameter of 2400 km.
Hygiea itself was first discovered in 1849 inthe asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers believe that Hygiea was formed 2 billion years ago after a collision with a giant cosmic body with a diameter of about 150 km, as a result of which the asteroid split into more than 7 thousand fragments.