The asteroid Hygea, located at a distance of 3.1 astronomical units from the Sun, has a spherical shape, so it can be classified as a dwarf planet. This is stated in study European astronomers have published in Nature Astronomy.
The spherical form is one of the prerequisites by which an object in the solar system can be considered a dwarf planet. In a new study, astronomers studied the images taken by the VLT telescope – for the first time in history, Hygei was able to photograph in high resolution and determine its shape.
Five objects of the Solar System are recognized as dwarf planets: Pluto, Eris, Makemake, Haumea and Ceres. Some dozens of objects, like Hygea, are candidates for dwarf planets.
The next session of the International Astronomical Union, in which Hygea can be officially recognized as a dwarf planet, will be held in 2021 in South Korea.
If the state of Hygea is confirmed, it will become the smallest dwarf planet. Its diameter is 430 kilometers.