Share this story...
Latest News

Astronomers discover distant planet billions of miles beyond Pluto

(Carnegie Institution for Science photo)

The size of our solar system just got larger overnight!

With recent searches of what lies beyond Pluto, astronomers have now detected a small planet some 200 miles in diameter which lies at the incredible distance of some 7.9 billion miles from the Sun.

The new object has been named 2015 TG387, a rather bland name for this most distant object.

The vast distance of this object at 2.5 times the distance of the dwarf planet Pluto makes this a most interesting object out in a region known as the Kuiper Belt.

When Pluto was discovered here in Arizona back in 1930, there was much excitement that this object was thought to be at the farthest edge of the solar system.

Since that time, many new objects have been discovered at much greater distances than Pluto.

The names, Eris, Makemake, Sedna, Quaoar, Varuna and Haumea, are not part of most peoples’ vocabulary, as these are a few of the new dwarf type planets that lie within this amazing region in the solar system, known as the Kuiper Belt.

Simply, the solar system is packed with so many small planets and the discoveries just keep on coming!

When Pluto was first discovered in 1930, many had the belief that a true 10th planet was lurking far beyond Pluto. To this day, there are many in the scientific community who believe that “Planet X” still exists as a large body yet undiscovered.

How far does the Sun’s gravity reach out into the solar system and what is the limit of that in the known Kuiper Belt?

Astronomers know of the “Kuiper Cliff,” a region in the Kuiper Belt that seems to end at a distance from the Sun of 48 AU (1 AU is the distance of the Sun from the Earth), around 4.46 billion miles from the Sun!

This is very important, as this might signify that there is a much more massive-type object lurking well beyond this distance.

Some have labeled this object “Planet 9.” It might be an object as large as the earth or larger in an orbit that takes well over 20,000 years to circle the Sun.

Beyond the realm of the Kuiper Belt is a large cloud like formation, known as the “Oort Cloud.” This is a region of the distant solar system where comets are thought to be and there is even speculation that a large gas giant planet much like Jupiter may inhabit this region of space.

Astronomers have named this theoretical planet Tyche after the Greek goddess of fortune and fame.

The object would be around 15,000 AU from the earth and orbit the Sun with a period of some 1.8 million years.

For now, the discovery of 2015 TG387 is simply amazing in itself, as we search the night sky for the edge of our solar system and the amazing object which lie out in the deep dark cold of the solar system!

Listen to Dr. Sky on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

To print your very own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus
Related Links