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Astronomers Discover a New Dwarf Planet in Our Solar System

The tiny planet is the 18th largest object located in the Kuiper Belt.

Arra Dianne HifarvaJuly 12th 2016

New dwarf planet

Another Pluto-like dwarf planet was discovered by astronomers. The dwarf planet, located about 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune, has a diameter of around 700 kilometers (435 miles), revolves in an elliptical orbit around the sun for 700 Earth-years and is called 2015 RR245.

On the year 2096, it will be closest to the sun at about 5 billion km (3.1 billion mi) and its farthest distance from the sun is at about 12 billion km (7.5 mi).

The dwarf planet was discovered by a team of astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Maunakea, Hawaii. They took images last September 2015 which were analyzed this February. The discovery was announced on Monday in the Minor Planet Electronic Circular.

Kuiper Belt

RR245 is described as the 18th largest object in the Kuiper Belt. Discovered in 1992, the Kuiper Belt is located 30 AU from the sun. Some objects included in this belt are Pluto, Makemake and Varuna. It contains icy bodies with sizes ranging from small chunks to more than a hundred kilometers across.

Kuiper Belt Illustration Credit: Laurine Moreau
Kuiper Belt Illustration Credit: Laurine Moreau

According to CFHT, “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.” Majority of the dwarf planets were destroyed or were forced to move away from the sun as the giant planets settled into their current positions.

The Outer Solar System Origins Survey team will get the naming rights to the planet for their discovery. As soon as the precise orbit of the planet is identified, the planet will get its official name. Meanwhile, observations on the dwarf planet will continue.

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