Washington, March 27: Scientists have discovered a dwarf pink planet located beyond the known edge of our Solar System.
The known Solar System can be divided into three parts: the rocky planets like Earth, which are close to the Sun; the gas giant planets, which are further out; and the frozen objects of the Kuiper belt, which lie just beyond Neptune’s orbit. Beyond this, there appears to be an edge to the Solar System where only one object, Sedna, was previously known to exist for its entire orbit.
But the newly found 2012 VP113 has an orbit that stays even beyond Sedna, making it the furthest known in the Solar System.
Sedna was discovered beyond the Kuiper Belt edge in 2003, and it was not known if Sedna was unique, as Pluto once was thought to be before the Kuiper Belt was discovered. With the discovery of 2012 VP113 it is now clear Sedna is not unique and is likely the second known member of the hypothesized inner Oort cloud, the likely origin of some comets.
2012 VP113′s closest orbit point to the Sun brings it to about 80 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun.
Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory used the new Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the NOAO 4 meter telescope in Chile for discovery.
From the amount of sky searched, Sheppard and Trujillo determine that about 900 objects with orbits like Sedna and 2012 VP113 with sizes larger than 1000 km may exist and that the total population of the inner Oort cloud is likely bigger than that of the Kuiper Belt and main asteroid belt.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature. (ANI)