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New Distant Dwarf Planet Beyond Neptune Discovered

Jul 13, 2016 04:33 AM EDT
Planet Neptune
A new distant dwarf planet was discovered beyond Neptune.
(Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A distant dwarf planet was discovered beyond Neptune and it is half the size of Britain. Originally believed to be a ball of icy rock nine billion kilometers away is now considered a dwarf planet.

Its orbit is farther away from Neptune. "It was really remarkable to see how bright this object was," Michele Bannister, an astronomer on the team at the University of Victoria, Canada said in an interview with the Guardian. "It's far brighter than the objects we normally find," Bannister added.

The discovery was after a glimpse of a bright object beyond Neptune was spotted in Sept. 2015 by a telescope in Hawaii for the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS).

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) designated 2015 RR245 as a dwarf planet; the name will be changed once astronomers have decided on what to call their new discovery. According to experts, they can only propose a name for a dwarf planet once they have successfully observed its orbit and trajectory for several years. Today, it is too early to propose a name for the newly discovered dwarf planet.

The naming of a dwarf planet is entertaining for astronomers, they usually give names based on mythological characters, said Bannister.

The dwarf planet, 700 km in diameter is believed to have one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet. "Finding a new dwarf planet beyond Neptune sheds light on the early phases of planet formation," Brett Gladman, the Canada Research Chair in planetary astronomy said in an interview with Science Daily. "Since most of these icy worlds are incredibly small and faint, it's exciting to find a bright one that is easier to study, and which is on an interesting orbit," Gladman added.

Without the help of innovative and powerful equipment, astronomers wouldn't be able to detect new dwarf planets especially in remote regions far out in the Solar System. The OSSOS project also uses powerful computers to detect objects like Neptune that is 120 times further from the Sun than the Earth.

Over the years OSSOS have discovered more than five hundred new trans-Neptunian objects and RR245 is its largest discovery yet.


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