JUL 15, 2016 8:27 AM PDT

Scientists Potentially Discover New Dwarf Planet Just Beyond Pluto

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Scientists always have their eyes in the skies. Although Neptune is the single furthest planet in our Solar System, Pluto was once considered a planet, and is now considered a dwarf planet. Of course, Pluto isn’t the only dwarf planet out there.
 
There are multiple dwarf planets in our solar system, including Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake, but scientists from The International Astronomical Union believe they may have discovered another one just outside of the orbit of Pluto.
 

Is there another dwarf planet just beyond Neptune? Scientists think so.

 Image Credit: Alex Parker OSSOS team

Inside of the Kuiper Belt, an object follows an orbital path around the Sun and is potentially large enough to be considered a dwarf planet. It was among 600 other icy objects that were being monitored by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope located in Hawaii.

"The icy worlds beyond Neptune trace how the giant planets formed and then moved out from the Sun. They let us piece together the history of our Solar System. But almost all of these icy worlds are painfully small and faint: it's really exciting to find one that's large and bright enough that we can study it in detail." Dr Michele Bannister of the University of Victoria in British Columbia said in a statement.

Dwarf planets have to meet certain requirements to be considered one, including orbiting the Sun, having enough mass to produce to gravity necessary for a circular shape, having cleared the neighborhood of debris, and not being a satellite for another planet in the solar system.
 
Will the new object, subtly named 2015 RR245, become known as a dwarf planet? It’s too early to tell.
 
Right now, the information shows that the object may be up to double the distance from the Sun that Neptune is, but at its furthest point, it could get as far away from the Sun as 120 times the distance of Earth from the Sun (it’s quite the distant voyage, as indicated by the diagram above).

"There it was on the screen— this dot of light moving so slowly that it had to be at least twice as far as Neptune from the Sun.” said Bannister.

At these incredible distances, it can be hard to observe with current observation technology. These icy bodies are blurry when observed via telescopes from Earth, and you can’t get a really clear picture or study them up close without sending a spacecraft out to go look at them.
 
As we learned with New Horizons fly-by just last year, it took the spacecraft nearly a decade to get to Pluto, and this potential dwarf planet is even further out.
 
With only a telescope to look at the object, and little known about it, there’s little we can do right now except produce theories. Ner Horizons is headed for a different Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), and it's unlikely it'll ever cross paths with this object.
 
Source: CHF via NYT, Space Facts

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Critical Sample Handling Equipment is Installed on the Perseverance Rover
MAR 22, 2020
Critical Sample Handling Equipment is Installed on the Perseverance Rover
It was only a couple of weeks ago that NASA’s Mars 2020 rover got renamed to the Perseverance rover, and with a la ...
APR 17, 2020
Cancer
Can astronauts withstand radiation on a mission to Mars?
APR 17, 2020
Can astronauts withstand radiation on a mission to Mars?
New research published in the journal Science Advances attempts to model the risk of cancer that astronauts will incur f ...
MAY 25, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Virgin Orbit Wants to Launch Space Rockets From 747 Jets
MAY 25, 2020
Virgin Orbit Wants to Launch Space Rockets From 747 Jets
Entities from all around the world, be it companies or government space agencies, are continuously innovating in an atte ...
MAY 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Unfavorable Weather Delays SpaceX's Historic Crewed American Launch
MAY 27, 2020
Unfavorable Weather Delays SpaceX's Historic Crewed American Launch
After officially receiving the green light from NASA to move forward with the first crewed space launch from American so ...
JUN 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Mapping the heliosphere with IBEX
JUN 17, 2020
Mapping the heliosphere with IBEX
A study published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplements reports findings from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Expl ...
AUG 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
AUG 09, 2020
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
On August 7, A SpaceX recovery vessel called GO Navigator brought the Crew Dragon capsule back to its home port.
Loading Comments...