New Icy Dwarf Planet Discovered Beyond Neptune

New Icy Dwarf Planet Discovered Beyond Neptune
Science & Medicine

A new dwarf planet has been discovered just beyond Neptune, scientists have stated. This planet is only about five percent of the size of planet Earth and can take up to a whopping 700 years to orbit the sun, making one year on that planet incredibly long!

This planet was spotted by a group of international astronomers as part of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, using what is referred to as the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. They have been keeping track of 600 bodies in what they describe as a ring of icy debris in the Kuiper belt.

“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,” said Michele Bannister of the University of British Columbia and one of the astronomers on the project.

Although this tiny world may be called a dwarf planet, it may take years before it is classified as so. This is partly due to some confusion over what is classified as a planet, and the 2006 decision to remove the planethood status of Pluto.

The dwarf planet, which was first seen in February, is known as the 2015 RR245. Although astronomers cannot be certain of its size, they estimate that it is anywhere between 370 and 500 miles wide. This estimation is done through measuring its brightness, how far away it is and how reflective its surface is.

Astronomers also cannot deduce if the new planet is round. In order to achieve the status of a “dwarf planet,” the gravity on it must be strong enough to make it form into a ball. However, scientists are assuming it is likely to be spherical.

Dr. S Alan Stern of the New Horizons mission thinks that the eight planet definition is incredibly limiting and that there are many more dwarf planets who should be given the status of planet.

“There are a lot of little guys. We were just wrong to think that there were just a few planets and they were all close and they were all big like Jupiter or big like the Earth,” he said.