A Top, mystery dwarf planet's been hiding in our Solar System this whole-time Video

Astronomers have presently announced that an unnamed, overlooked object lurking at the back of our Solar System is in fact way bigger than they previously thought. In fact, it's only somewhat smaller than Pluto and Eris, which suggests that it is, in fact, a dwarf planet - the third main dwarf planet we know of in the Milky Way - and the main by far of our system's astronomical body to not have a name.
So how did we go so long without notice how big and important this poor, nameless dwarf planet really is? It's not the first time we've been astonished by our Solar System recently - a few weeks ago scientists establish a hidden moon past Pluto, and a giant galaxy orbiting our own seemingly appear out of nowhere previous month. What all of these objects have in general is that they're dark and weird, which made them hard to spot.
This no-name object, which was labelled 2007 OR10 and from time to time nicknamed 'snow white', orbits our Sun from the cold, dark depths of the Kuiper belt, way further than Neptune. The frozen world was first exposed in 2007, as its name suggests, but it's always been firm for us to observe properly - so for almost a decade astronomers assumed it was only around 1,280 km (795 miles in diameter) and didn't think a great deal about it - after all, we know of roughly 200 objects that might be dwarf planets, so it wasn't particular.
Hell, even the best artist's feeling we have of the object is fuzzy (see above).
But now researchers have used 2 space telescopes, including data from our favourite planet-hunter Kepler, to get a good look at the dwarf planet, and have updated that size appraisal to an impressive diameter of 1,535 km (955 miles) - creation it not much smaller than the of-great-interest Pluto and Eris. So, uh, I guess it's time we gave 2007 OR10 a name?
It's taken us so long to completely appreciate 2007 OR10 because it's incredibly dark and sluggish. Its surface is deep red - which scientists think might be due to an ever-changing outside layer of methane ice - and it hardly reflects any light.
It also spins very slowly, with a rotating day that lasts around 45 hours - one of the longest in the Solar System. It as well has a weird, elliptical orbit which makes it hard for us to watch it for a consistent period of time.
Kepler did catch a sight of it in 2014, and you can see the very fuzzy footage of a number of of its orbit below:
A Top, mystery dwarf planet's been hiding in our Solar System this whole-time Video

"The names of Pluto-sized bodies every tell a story about the characteristics of their own objects. In the past, we haven't recognized enough about 2007 OR10 to give it a name that would do it justice," said one of the astronomers concerned, Meg Schwamb, from the Samuel Oschin Telescope close to San Diego. "I think we're coming to a point where we can provide 2007 OR10 its rightful name."

It's pretty cool to picture what the next 10 years might bring for our understanding of Kuiper belt objects. Never forget, 20 years ago, this is the top picture we had of Pluto:

No comments

Powered by Blogger.