Astronomers have found the largest dwarf planet beyond the orbit of Neptune

© Photo : ESO/L. Calçada Dwarf planet in the view of the artistAstronomers have found the largest dwarf planet beyond the orbit of Neptune© Photo : ESO/L. Calçada

Astronomers have discovered on the distant outskirts of the Solar system previously unknown dwarf planet 2010 JO179 with unusually tilted orbit, whose diameter is an impressive 900 kilometres, according to the article posted in the electronic library arXiv.org

«This dwarf planet is unusually bright for typical inhabitants of the Kuiper belt, but the high angle of its orbit, exceeding 30 degrees, do not allow our colleagues to find her first. Its discovery shows that the discovery of other dwarf planets would require a very «wide» surveys of the sky, affecting not only the plane of the Solar system, but the area under and over it,» said Michelle Bannister (Michele Bannister) from the University of Belfast (UK).

In recent years, scientists have discovered several dwarf planets and large objects in the outer reaches of the Solar system, have clearly shown that «life» in it does not stop at the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, and that a large celestial body continue to meet and at greater distances.

So, in 2014, planetary scientists Chad Trujillo and Scott Shepard announced the discovery of «Biden» – plutoid 2012 VP113, receding from the Sun at 12 billion kilometers, and in 2015 they were open dwarf planet V774104 extending from the sun even further. At the beginning of last year was found hints of the existence of a giant «planet x» and found a dwarf planet KH162 2015, a year which lasts 500 years.

A year ago, Bannister and her colleagues broke the record Trujillo and Shepard, opening a small planet 2015 RR245 – plutoid in diameter presumably 700 kilometers, receding from the Sun at record distant 120 astronomical units, or 18 billion kilometers.

Bannister and her colleagues unexpectedly discovered another large and rather distant dwarf planet beyond the orbit of Neptune, studying archived images and data collected by an automated telescope Pan-STARRS 1, which is designed to search for asteroids, comets and other small celestial bodies.

Scientists drew attention to the fact that this telescope is «watched» not only on the plane of the Ecliptic, «pancake» of the Solar system, inside of which live virtually all of its planets except Pluto, but a large area above and below it. Here in the distant past, had been ejected many comets and asteroids, revolving today around the Sun in an orbit that is inclined relative to the Ecliptic.

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, as astronomers now believe, did not come out of their current orbits, and on the distant outskirts of the Solar system, from where they migrated in the direction of the light in the first moments of his life. These «resettlement of the planets» was to throw dozens of large dwarf planets outside of the Ecliptic, and make them rotate around the Sun like comets and asteroids from the inner Solar system.

Younger «brother» of Pluto

Following this idea, the researchers analyzed and a special way to reformat the data and images from the database of the Pan-STARRS 1, hoping to find them like the dwarf planet. It was not easy, as the telescope periodically switches to a new region of the night sky, because of what it can track only the movement of the slowest of the dwarf planets.

Despite these limitations, astronomers quickly enough opened the first dwarf planet, 2010 JO179, whose dimensions enable it to enter into the twenty of the largest «cousins Pluto».

It moves at an unusually eccentric orbit whose closest to the Sun point is at the distance of about 39 astronomical units from the sun, or 5.8 billion kilometers, and the farthest – at a distance of 117 astronomical units (17.5 billion kilometers).

High brightness of the dwarf planet allowed scientists not only to measure its size – about 600-900 kilometers, but also to determine its form, calculate the length of a day on it and reveal some features of its surface.

It turned out that 2010 JO179 rotates around its axis slowly enough to dwarf planet – the day it lasts about 30 hours, and one of its sides is darker than the opposite, like Pluto and its bright «heart», surrounded by dark mountains. In form, this dwarf planet is more like a ball than a ellipse or any other shape of irregular shape.

The most interesting aspect of this planet, as the researchers note, is not its physical properties or dimensions, and its orbit. As shown by their calculations, it is in orbital resonance with Neptune for the time of the 2010 JO179 spends five turns around the Sun, the planet-the giant flies shone exactly 21 times. Accordingly, the year «little brother» of Pluto lasts for about 700 years.

The presence of such a link between Neptune and JO179 2010, according to Bannister and her colleagues, may not be a random thing. According to scientists, the orbit of this dwarf planet may contain traces of migration of Neptune in the distant past. Therefore, the search for other planets with similar orbits may help astronomers to understand how did the Earth and other planets of the Solar system, whose formation of the giant planets played a key role.

Unfortunately, the discovery of this planet, as explained by Bannister, RIA «Novosti», will help astronomers quickly localize the position of the mysterious «planet x» — it is too far to 2010 JO179 and like her, the dwarf planet could interact with her.

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