A new planet has recently been discovered by astronomers, and the discovery of the dwarf pink planet which appears to be the most distant in orbit in our solar system leads researchers to believe that there may be thousands more, that are still undiscovered. The new dwarf planet, nicknamed 2012 VP113, in a tribute to Vice President Joe Biden measures 450 kilometers in diameter , and the orbit distance from the sun is estimated to be at least 12 billion kilometers, which is 800 % more than the earth’s distance from the sun.
The most distant planet in our system was believed to another dwarf planet that was discovered about 10 years ago and was given the name Sedna, after an Inuit goddess of the Arctic seas. The astronomers were uncertain about the relationship of Sedna to other planets in the Kuiper belt, which is the home of other dwarf planets such as Eris and Pluto, but with the latest discovery, they are now much more confident that they may be several more.
According to Chad Trujillo, the lead author of the study that was published in Nature magazine, there is no way to be certain of the number of planets, which can be in the hundred of thousands.
The pink dwarf VP113 was discovered using the new Dark Energy Camera on the 4-meter telescope of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Chile. Researchers Trujillo and Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. took photos of the sky, every two hours and looked for moving objects.
The new planets discovered by the astronomers is pink in color, and appears to have less light than Sedna. The researchers have no knowledge of the composition of the planet, but given the distance from the sun, they assume that it will most likely be covered with ice. The orbit of VP113 is similar to that of Sedna, which suggests that they may be influenced by a much larger planet, which may be as much as 10 times larger than the Earth.
The latest discovers continue to bolster the fact that very little is known or understood about our own solar system, and unexplored regions may contain much more than can be imagined. The existence of the inner Oort Cloud has not been proven, and is based on a hypothesis of a cloud of predominantly icy dwarf planets that may be at least a light-year away from the Sun. Researchers hope that the discovery of VP113 may lead to indication of how the planets were formed.
Scientists say there are 3 different parts of our solar system, and the planets in each part are different. Rocky planets such as Earth and Mars orbit close to the sun, with the gas planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in more distant orbits. These are followed by the ice-planets in the Kuiper belt.
As astronomers discover new planets, the discoveries are leading to more information, and researchers conclude that there are approximately 900 bodies with sizes and orbits similar to that of Sedna and VP113. They believe that some of the bodies in the Oort cloud may even be as big as the Earth, but remain undetected due to the limitations of current technology.
Written By Dale Davidson