We Just Found a New Dwarf Planet Hiding in Our Solar System

Alex Parker OSSOS team

Our map of the solar system still has huge unexplored chunks, which astronomers just proved with the discovery of a dwarf planet hanging out around Neptune and Pluto.

The tiny, 700-kilometer object is called RR245, and astronomers estimate it's about twice the distance that Neptune is from the sun; it takes the dwarf planet about 700 years to revolve all the way around the sun. 

See its orbital path in yellow in the image below:

Orbital path of RR245.Source: Alex Parker OSSOS team
Orbital path of RR245.  Alex Parker OSSOS team

Astronomers discovered RR245 during the ongoing Outer Solar System Origins Survey.

"The icy worlds beyond Neptune trace how the giant planets formed and then moved out from the sun," Michele Bannister, a postdoctoral researcher who worked on the project, said in a statement. "They let us piece together the history of our solar system. But almost all of these icy worlds are painfully small and faint: It's really exciting to find one that's large and bright enough that we can study it in detail." 

Future research could help us determine the role that dwarf planets played in the formation of the early universe. 

And, when larger telescopes get hooked up online, we may find even more dwarf planets hiding out in the boonies of the solar system.

It's clear we have a lot more exploring to do. 

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