It seems that our solar system just became a bit bigger. Well, at least, potentially. A potential planet in one of the most remote orbits ever recorded is detected by the Blanco telescope in Chile.
The limits of our Solar System seem to be continually expanding, as the newfound celestial body temporarily named «2012 VP113» is estimated to have a diameter of about 450 km and is located in the so-called Oort Cloud.
This area is full of millions of moving comets and lies beyond the Kuiper Belt, a region with icy bodies like Pluto (which lost its planet status in 2006).
The researchers suspect that 2012 VP113 consists of soft ice and has gradually acquired a spherical shape due to its gravitational field (for this reason, the newfound body is a candidate for being recognized as a dwarf planet).
It is the second large object discovered in the Oort Cloud after Sedna (which, however, has not been yet recognized as a planet) in 2013. Both bodies follow elliptical orbits, which means that their distance from the Sun is continuously changing.
The discovery of the new candidate for the dwarf planet will help researchers give an explanation of how the bodies got at such a distance from the Sun.
However, some years will be probably needed to be able to definitively confirm the existence of 2012 VP113, as well as accurately determine its orbit, mass, and composition.
Sedna is approaching up to 76 Astronomical Units (AU) and moves up to 1.000 AU away from the Sun. 2012 VP113 is a little closer to the Sun, as its distance from our star is estimated to be between 80 and 452 AU.
With all these potential planets being discovered in the recent years, we start wondering about how big our solar system actually is. I can’t wait to see what other fascinating celestial bodies will be found in the approximate future!
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