Dwarf Planet Discovered in Our Solar System, Hints at Larger Planet

Dwarf Planet Discovered in Our Solar System, Hints at Larger Planet

Dwarf Planet - Main

Astronomers have spotted a tiny, pinkish dwarf planet spinning around the edges of our solar system.

The outskirts of our solar system just got a little bigger. According to a group of scientists from the Gemini Observatory, a dwarf planet has been detected on the far side of Pluto.

The tiny ball is only about 280 miles across, and takes about 4,000 years to orbit the sun. Researchers haven't been able to determine the planet's composition, but speculate that it's made of ice, given its pinkish hue.

Until very recently, scientists assumed that this region of space was vacant, but several discoveries suggest that a handful of minuscule planets live in the area. "We used to think there's just not much out there," said Chad Trujillo, one of the astronomers who made the discovery. "But it turns out there are some interesting things."

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this discovery is the fact that it hints at an even larger planet in the area. While studying the dwarf planet's orbital movement, researchers realized that it was responding to the gravity of a much larger object, up to 10 times the size of Earth.

"So we just need to find more of these objects to see really what's happening," said Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. "But it's definitely a probable thing that there could be a very large object out there."

Right now, the spinning ball of ice is known as 2012 VP113, but the team affectionately invokes the Vice President's name on occasion. "For short we've just been calling it VP or sometimes we even just call it Biden," Sheppard says.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astronomy's most famous face, commented on Dwarf Planet Biden on Facebook. "It's dark out there," Tyson says. "And to compound that fact, the stuff that orbit the Sun out there tends to be as black as the sidewall of a car tire. We should expect to find more and more objects as our telescopes and detectors get better and better."

Source: NPR, CNN

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No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

synobal:
No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

The planet itself isn't that big a deal, but the implication that there's a significantly greater mass out there within our solar system certainly is. It won't effect much in everyday life, but it's a pretty big discovery in the field of astronomy (assuming we eventually find it). There's some interesting stuff that may come of that, if only because of the technology that would be developed to find the thing.

So they found a new planet, 280 miles across, slow, meandering and nearly invisible. And they are calling it "Biden"? PERFECT!!!

Agayek:

synobal:
No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

The planet itself isn't that big a deal, but the implication that there's a significantly greater mass out there within our solar system certainly is. It won't effect much in everyday life, but it's a pretty big discovery in the field of astronomy (assuming we eventually find it). There's some interesting stuff that may come of that, if only because of the technology that would be developed to find the thing.

Depends what you consider a greater mass, these things aren't even as big as Ceres which is tiny when compared to any stellar bodies of actual size.

synobal:
Depends what you consider a greater mass, these things aren't even as big as Ceres which is tiny when compared to any stellar bodies of actual size.

From the article, emphasis mine:

While studying the dwarf planet's orbital movement, researchers realized that it was responding to the gravity of a much larger object, up to 10 times the size of Earth.

Ten times the size of Earth is only slightly smaller than Uranus. That's a pretty significant planetary body.

Agayek:

synobal:
Depends what you consider a greater mass, these things aren't even as big as Ceres which is tiny when compared to any stellar bodies of actual size.

From the article, emphasis mine:

While studying the dwarf planet's orbital movement, researchers realized that it was responding to the gravity of a much larger object, up to 10 times the size of Earth.

Ten times the size of Earth is only slightly smaller than Uranus. That's a pretty significant planetary body.

I learned early on not to trust anything that says "UP TO" it's the same trick that ISPs used. You can get up to 10 megabits persecond. So ya it isn't a big deal and I'm not about to get excited until they actually spot this larger body.

Could be interesting if there is a ninth planet out there, it would explain some of the mysteries about the Oort Cloud.

Agayek:
[

Ten times the size of Earth is only slightly smaller than Uranus. That's a pretty significant planetary body.

*cue adolescent snickering*

I mean, could you not have phrased that slightly better?

Agayek:

synobal:
No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

The planet itself isn't that big a deal, but the implication that there's a significantly greater mass out there within our solar system certainly is. It won't effect much in everyday life, but it's a pretty big discovery in the field of astronomy (assuming we eventually find it). There's some interesting stuff that may come of that, if only because of the technology that would be developed to find the thing.

I remember reading many years ago, that due to the wobble that Neptune displays, it was believed there was another large planet beyond - especially since it was mathematically impossible for Pluto to be the cause of that wobble. But, wouldn't we have found this sizable object by now (expecially if we can find 280 mile planets and see the waves of the Big Bang?)

I wonder, and I'm no expert, does it need to be a planetary body?
Isn't it possible to have a small object of considerable mass exert a large gravitational force?
Could dark matter be a candidate?

Maybe someone with an astronomy background could elucidate.

s69-5:

Agayek:

synobal:
No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

The planet itself isn't that big a deal, but the implication that there's a significantly greater mass out there within our solar system certainly is. It won't effect much in everyday life, but it's a pretty big discovery in the field of astronomy (assuming we eventually find it). There's some interesting stuff that may come of that, if only because of the technology that would be developed to find the thing.

I remember reading many years ago, that due to the wobble that Neptune displays, it was believed there was another large planet beyond - especially since it was mathematically impossible for Pluto to be the cause of that wobble. But, wouldn't we have found this sizable object by now (expecially if we can find 280 mile planets and see the waves of the Big Bang?)

I wonder, and I'm no expert, does it need to be a planetary body?
Isn't it possible to have a small object of considerable mass exert a large gravitational force?
Could dark matter be a candidate?

Maybe someone with an astronomy background could elucidate.

Because - strangely - some things are easier to see from far away. We can find large exo-planets by looking for stars wobbling slightly, and noticing the minor eclipse when the exo-planet moves in front of its parent star. A local planet, further out than Pluto, would be very dark against a dark background, and won't induce much gravitational response in the Sun because it's at so far out. (Most of the exo-planets we've found are very close to their parent stars, because it makes them easier to detect.)

Detecting the waves of the Big Bang is a separate issue - that's a pattern buried in the background radiation of the universe, which is visible across the night-sky.

Boy, Biden and not Meyer? You have been wasting your time Julia Louis-Dreyfus, wasting your time.

Obviously NASA have discovered Mondas, prepare the gold dust!

Under_your_bed:

Agayek:
[

Ten times the size of Earth is only slightly smaller than Uranus. That's a pretty significant planetary body.

*cue adolescent snickering*

I mean, could you not have phrased that slightly better?

No, I think that's about the best possible phrasing for that sentence.

As long as any "large object" close to our solar system isn't Nemesis steamrolling through I'll go on sleeping well at night.

Under_your_bed:
*cue adolescent snickering*

I mean, could you not have phrased that slightly better?

Clearly not.

s69-5:
I remember reading many years ago, that due to the wobble that Neptune displays, it was believed there was another large planet beyond - especially since it was mathematically impossible for Pluto to be the cause of that wobble. But, wouldn't we have found this sizable object by now (expecially if we can find 280 mile planets and see the waves of the Big Bang?)

I wonder, and I'm no expert, does it need to be a planetary body?
Isn't it possible to have a small object of considerable mass exert a large gravitational force?
Could dark matter be a candidate?

Maybe someone with an astronomy background could elucidate.

Not really. Size is kinda irrelevant when it comes to identifying astronomical objects, because space is big. However big you think space is, add a few thousand zeroes to that number and you'll probably still only have covered a small portion of the cosmos. With a search area that large, planetary bodies are negligible. They just aren't big enough to stand out, no matter what their size.

The important thing for astronomy is "brightness"; it needs to generate its own light/radiation, reflect the sun's, or reflect radiation we send at it (which is a problem when trying to find things, see previous paragraph for why). Otherwise, we have no way to see it. It's a dark shape on a dark background, completely indistinguishable from anything else.

In this particular planet's case, it's clearly very poorly lit, most likely due to distance from the sun. Astronomers could create theoretical models for its mass and probable orbit by studying its gravitational effects on other planetary bodies (Neptune, Pluto, and VP-whatever the number is primarily), then use our telescopes to try and intercept it with a radio signal that it'll bounce back to us. No idea how long it'll take to actually do that.

RoonMian:
As long as any "large object" close to our solar system isn't Nemesis steamrolling through I'll go on sleeping well at night.

I never liked that book. Asimov did so much better in his other works.

OT: Let's see... Either they've at last located Mondas, home of the Cybermen, or...

Either way, the future's looking rather interesting.

FalloutJack:

RoonMian:
As long as any "large object" close to our solar system isn't Nemesis steamrolling through I'll go on sleeping well at night.

I never liked that book. Asimov did so much better in his other works.

OT: Let's see... Either they've at last located Mondas, home of the Cybermen, or...

Either way, the future's looking rather interesting.

I was referring to the actual Nemesis Theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_Theory

Until now I didn't even know Asimov wrote a book about that.

So we might be back up to nine planets now?

Inb4 smartass says: Yes, I know, there are a ton of dwarf planets. I'm not talking about those.

synobal:
No big deal really, as objects go it's pretty freaking small. We should be more concerned about large comets in the oort cloud honestly. Because those have the potential of coming in system and striking us.

true... but the quirk of comets is that they don't give off trails until they get into the system.. add to that the ridiculously long orbits. I mean hailey's is the most frequently see and if you see it twice in one lifetime you're lucky.

then you get the ones with 1000year orbits, which are pretty much impossible to track. face it, we don't do well at keeping track of things for that length of time.

That's no planet, it's a space station. And Unicron is about to bear down on it.

...A Mass Relay, perhaps? Anyone?

Capcha: None of the above.

Captcha agrees, it seems. Mass relay. Definitely. The one the humans found were buried in ice, was it not? HMMMM?

faefrost:
So they found a new planet, 280 miles across, slow, meandering and nearly invisible. And they are calling it "Biden"? PERFECT!!!

I was going to say something along those lines as well. :P

It's going to be funny when they do a follow-up story saying "Oops, sorry about that. We just re-discovered Pluto." :3

waj9876:
So we might be back up to nine planets now?

Inb4 smartass says: Yes, I know, there are a ton of dwarf planets. I'm not talking about those.

Pluto still is a planet. Fuck the police!!!!

Sure, when Biden does the little planet thing it's cool, but when Pluto did it you just laughed and called him a planetoid. You're such a planetist, and MAKE ME SICK.

Under_your_bed:

Agayek:
[

Ten times the size of Earth is only slightly smaller than Uranus. That's a pretty significant planetary body.

*cue adolescent snickering*

I mean, could you not have phrased that slightly better?

You avatar just makes this comment so much better.

Jhonie:
...A Mass Relay, perhaps? Anyone?

Capcha: None of the above.

Captcha agrees, it seems. Mass relay. Definitely. The one the humans found were buried in ice, was it not? HMMMM?

No, it can't be a relay because we already know that it's in Charon.

If we do find this "nearly the size of Uranus" (stop laughing, are you five?) planet, we will have nine planets again! :D

Can I just say that Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a boss? That guy makes science cool again!

 

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