NASA remolds our image of the outer Solar System with the announcement of the discovery of a new dwarf planet.

lilalarge New dwarf planet gives a clearer picture of the outer Solar System

Last week several observatories had confirmed reports of a newly discovered object outside the Solar System, which is technically as of now considered as the most distant object that is known to be in orbit around the Solar System.

The observed object was classified as a dwarf planet, designated as 2012 VP113. Dwarf planets are basically spherical celestial bodies with a sufficient gravity field that is within an orbiting path around a mother star, or on this case, our own sun. The discovery was coordinated by the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Carnegie Institution in Washington, and the very existence of the dwarf planet itself may shed more light about the exact structure and composition of the Kuiper Belt, and perhaps even the Oort Cloud, the two outermost regions of the Solar System.

dwarfplanet2014 New dwarf planet gives a clearer picture of the outer Solar System

At its closest point in orbit, 2012 VP113 is about 80 AU (astronomical units), or about eighty times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. For comparison, Jupiter is about 5 AU, and most of the objects found in the Kuiper Belt are about 30-50 AU. Even Sedna, another trans-Neptunian object discovered in 2003, was still a little bit nearer to the sun in its closest orbit, which is around 76 AU. As of March 2014, the 2012 VP113 is the farthest object in our Solar System ever to have been definitively observed and studied.

The fact that dwarf planets such 2012 VP113 can exist reveals more about the exciting possibility that even larger objects exist just outside our local planetary neighborhood. As the researchers have suggested, some of the planets deep within the Oort Cloud might even be as big as the Earth, or probably even many times bigger. As of now however, we still don’t have the technology to observe these faint distant objects, so their discoveries may still have to wait for a few more years or decades.

Source: NASA