New dwarf planet found in our solar system

Solar system
Solar system. Credit: NASA
(Phys.org)—A team of space scientists at the University of Michigan has discovered a dwarf planet that is approximately half the size of Pluto and twice as far from the sun. The sighting was reported by NPR, which interviewed team lead physicist David Gerdes. He told them credit goes to a group of students who were challenged to find some new objects to add to the ongoing construction of a galaxy map. Their efforts led to software that can be used to analyze imagery from the Dark Energy Camera (the camera used as part of the ongoing Dark Energy Survey). It looks for objects that are moving in any given patch of sky—a sure sign that they are in our solar system.

The dwarf planet newly named 2014 UZ224 is so small—just 330 miles across—that the team is not certain it will retain its status as a dwarf planet, but for now, it joins Makemake, Sedna, Eris and, of course, Pluto, as known that exist in our solar system. It is also really far from us—approximately 14 billion kilometers—and quite far from the sun, taking approximately 1,140 years to make just one orbit. That puts it squarely in the Kuiper Belt along with countless other small objects and beyond the pull of Neptune's gravity.

The software developed by the team allows for tracking moving objects without capturing images taken on consecutive nights, allowing for a new kind of "connecting the dots" that reveals movement in the night sky. But the work is slow going—it took them two years to positively identify the new dwarf planet (hence the date in the name) but Gerdes is hopeful that the new software may help find other such bodies and perhaps even the mysterious Planet Nine—a theorized planet 10 times the size of Earth orbiting the sun in the far outreaches of our solar system. Several studies have found that other celestial objects are impacted by the actions of an unseen player, and most in the field suspect it is a big planet. Space scientists believe that mapping the solar system accurately may lead to a much better understanding of its origins.


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Oct 12, 2016
I've been predicting things like this for decades.

As our technology advances and our detection methods improve, I foresee finding many tens of thousands of dwarf and larger planets between Pluto and the outermost edge of the Oort cloud, whereupon there will be discovered similarly populated Oort clouds around every star.

About 15-20 years ago, I read on Bad Astronomer about some of the first exoplanets found using the transit method. It quoted a well-known astronomer saying that since these were all close orbiting giant planets, it was likely they were all the planets that were out there, i.e., no earths. So I wrote him and asked him whether our detection methods were just too weak and imprecise to find smaller planets farther out. After all, what evidence was there that our solar system was so unique?

He scoffed at that idea and then proceeded to school me (he thought). I wish I could remember his name so I could write him back and laugh at him.

Oct 12, 2016
Sure, and I've been predicting every event in world history for the last thirty years, with 100% bigly accuracy. Like you, though, I can't seem to find my records of those predictions. /s

Oct 12, 2016
Sure, and I've been predicting every event in world history for the last thirty years, with 100% bigly accuracy. Like you, though, I can't seem to find my records of those predictions

Yeah ... seems like there's actually people out there who think saying "I thought of this years ago" will win them brownie points. Sorta pathetic. I mean: when has that *ever* worked in real life for anyone?

Oct 12, 2016
Sure, and I've been predicting every event in world history for the last thirty years, with 100% bigly accuracy. Like you, though, I can't seem to find my records of those predictions

Yeah ... seems like there's actually people out there who think saying "I thought of this years ago" will win them brownie points. Sorta pathetic. I mean: when has that *ever* worked in real life for anyone?

I knew you would say that! (just kidding)

"tracking moving objects without capturing images taken on consecutive nights"
The software does it live instead of comparing images so how come it takes 2 years?

RNP
Oct 12, 2016
@Kedas
I think the point was that they developed software that could find a moving object even if the images were taken LESS frequently than consecutive nights (and probably more to the point at almost randomly spaced intervals)

Oct 12, 2016
..the mysterious Planet Nine—a theorized planet 10 times the size of Earth orbiting the sun in the far outreaches of our solar system
I like how a story grows with each telling. The Planet 9 mystery began as Planet X, a world roughly 4 times the mass of Earth's.

Oct 14, 2016
Trollbane, et al:

I say something like that almost never, but in this instance it happens to be true. It's the only time I ever emailed a prominent scientist about anything. But all you have to do is believe there's nothing particularly unique about our solar system and extrapolate that outward to come to the same conclusion.

Like most of you leftwing trolls here who do nothing but hurl insults, you're all full of yourselves with arrogance and hubris. If I knew how to search for emails I wrote 15-20 years and as many computers ago, I'd be happy to make you eat crow. If I didn't know better, I'd have to believe you're attacking me because I don't let you Marxists get by with your apocalyptic AGW BS.

Oct 15, 2016
"I wrote 15-20 years and as many computers ago," You go through a computer a year?
If you legitimately did email someone with a prediction, fine, but you have to realize when you state that you sound much like the many who make it up and we have no way to tell the difference. Your credibility isn't help by referencing your history of science denial and attaching an unwarranted political label.

Marxist? Hardly. He got some things right, others not so much.

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