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Dwarf planet discovered at solar system’s edge June 27, 2014

Posted by Al Philipson in Science and Science Fiction news.
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In this combined image, the colored dots show the movement of 2012 VP113. Each image was taken two hours apart.

In this combined image, the colored dots show the movement of 2012 VP113. Each image was taken two hours apart.

It is named 2012 VP113 and is at 83 AU.

But even farther out is another dwarf planet Eris. “Eris is bigger than Pluto, and has a satellite called Dysnomia.

A new exciting find from the far reaches of our solar system: Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet that’s even farther away than Pluto — so far, in fact, that its orbit reaches into a new edge of the solar system.

The dwarf planet’s current name is 2012 VP113, and it is located in a “wasteland or badland of the solar system,” said astronomer Chad Trujillo, head of adaptive optics at Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and co-discoverer of this object. His study was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

This dwarf planet is unusual because of its orbit, Trujillo said. On its elliptical path, the closest it ever comes to the sun is still very far away from the rest of the solar system. Its full orbit is farther than the orbit of any other object we know of in the solar system.

The most distant major planet from the sun is Neptune, orbiting our star at a distance of 30 astronomical units. One astronomical unit is the average distance between the Earth and the sun — about 150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles.

Beyond Neptune is the Kuiper Belt, a doughnut-shaped ring of small objects, which extends from about 30 to 55 AU, according to NASA. This belt may contain hundreds of thousands of large icy objects and trillions of comets, if not more. Pluto is considered a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt.

2012 VP113 is much farther from the sun, currently at 83 astronomical units. That puts it at 83 times the distance between our own planet and the sun (The closest point of its orbit is 80 astronomical units).

But in terms of average distance from the sun, there is a dwarf planet even farther out: Eris, which Trujillo helped discover. Eris is bigger than Pluto, and has a satellite called Dysnomia. Sedna takes about 10,500 years to orbit the sun.

Click here to see the entire story from CNN

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