A new planet was discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune. This discovery was confirmed by scientists including researchers from the University of Victoria.
The newly discovered object has around 700 kilometers in width and one of the most mysterious and largest orbits ever seen in this type of world: It takes a staggering 700 years to orbit the Sun.
Designated as 2015 RR245 by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union, the alien world was found with the help of the telescope at the top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, as part of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS).
‘The icy worlds beyond Neptune trace how the giant planets formed and then moved out from the sun,’ said Dr. Michele Bannister, from the University of Victoria.’They let us piece together the history of our solar system.’
‘Almost all of these icy worlds are painfully small and faint, so it’s really exciting to find one that’s large and bright enough to study in detail.’
The team of astronomers made up of different scientists from various countries including researchers from the University of Victoria, Canada, observed the new world for a period of six months from the 700 years it takes to complete an orbit around our star.
RR245 was first seen in February 2016 among the images Ossos had obtained earlier, in September 2015.
The ‘dwarf’ planet was spotted as a little bright dot in the telescope’s images.
‘There it was on the screen,’ said Dr. Bannister. ‘This dot of light, moving so slow that it had to be at least twice as far as Neptune from the sun.’
In addition to the excitement that resulted from the discovery of the object, researchers got even more stirred as they realized the highly elliptical orbit of the planet which carries it over 120 times further from the sun than our planet.
Researchers still do not know the exact size of the newly found dwarf planet, as surface properties require significant measurements.
It’s either small and shiny, or vast and dull,’ said researchers.
Interestingly, RR245 is the only dwarf planet found by Ossos, which has discovered more than 500 new trans-Neptunian objects.
Previous surveys have mapped almost all the brightest dwarf planets, so RR245 can be one of the last great worlds beyond Neptune that are found until we get our hands on the next generation of telescopes which will surely help scientists in their hunt for new alien worlds in the vicinity of our sun.