Jul 11, 2016

New Dwarf Planet Discovered in Outer Solar System

Artist rendering of the orbit of newly found RR245 (orange line). Objects as bright or brighter than RR245 are labeled. The Minor Planet Center describes the object as the 18th largest in the Kuiper Belt.
Astronomers have found another Pluto-like dwarf planet located about 20 times farther away from the sun than Neptune.

The small planet, designed 2015 RR245, is estimated to be about 435 miles in diameter and flying in an elliptical, 700-year orbit around the sun.

At closest approach, RR245 will be about 3.1 billion miles from the sun, a milestone it is expected to next reach in 2096.

At its most distant point, the icy world is located about 7.5 billion miles away.

It was found by a joint team of astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea, Hawaii, in images taken in September 2015 and analyzed in February. The discovery was announced on Monday in the Minor Planet Electronic Circular.

The Minor Planet Center describes RR245 as the 18th largest object in the Kuiper Belt.

"The vast majority of the dwarf planets like RR245 were destroyed or thrown from the solar system in the chaos that ensued as the giant planets moved out to their present positions," the CFHT said. "RR245 is one of the few dwarf planets that has survived to the present day — along with Pluto and Eris, the largest known dwarf planets."

Observations of RR245 will continue. Once its precise orbit is known the dwarf planet will get an official name. As discoverers, the Outer Solar System Origins Survey team has naming rights.

Read more at Discovery News

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