Dwarf planet: Latest solar system discovery hints at possible ‘Planet X’ via Yahoo News Digest
Astronomers have found a new dwarf planet far beyond Pluto’s orbit, suggesting that this distant realm contains millions of undiscovered objects—including, perhaps, a world larger than Earth. The newfound celestial body, called 2012 VP113, joins the dwarf planet Sedna as a confirmed resident of a far-flung and largely unexplored region scientists call the “inner Oort Cloud.” Further, 2012 VP113 and Sedna may have been pulled into their long, looping orbits by a big planet lurking unseen in these frigid depths.
"They exist in a part of the solar system that we used to think was pretty devoid of matter. It just goes to show how little we actually know about the solar system."
— co-author Chadwick Trujillo, Gemini Observatory
Certain characteristics of the orbits of Sedna, 2012 VP113 and several of the most distant Kuiper Belt objects are consistent with the continued presence of a big and extremely faraway “perturber,” researchers said. It’s possible that a planet roughly 10 times more massive than Earth located hundreds of astronomical units from the sun is shepherding these bodies into their current orbits. Such supposition is far from proof that an undiscovered “Planet X” actually exists, but some scientists say that the door is open, noting that an Earth-mass body at 250 astronomical units from the sun would likely be undetectable at present.
Get the app and the day’s need-to-know news.