Newly discovered dwarf planet

A new dwarf planet has been discovered on the outskirts of the solar system. There are hints that a much larger perturbing body could be present - possibly upto 10 times the size of the Earth!

A planet of that size should have been apparent from its gravitational influence alone. How could we have missed such a giant planet in our own backyard, while we discover planets hundreds of lightyears away?

This is certain to fire up the Planet X / Nibiru conspiracists, providing some entertainment.

Intense stuff!

Planet X is one possible explanation, but apparently the astronomers that discovered these favor an explanation where the solar system was born in a dense star cluster. Thus, when planets were formed the outer-most dwarf planets were significantly perturbed by neighboring stars. The same general phenomenon happens today and is responsible for forming the Oort cloud, but these dwarf planets aren’t far enough from the sun to be significantly perturbed by neighboring stars.

There’s a good article at the Planetary Society, which includes a lot of quotes from the people who discovered the dwarf planets.

They should name it Aule!

That’s no moon.

I have a bad feeling about this.

The designation is 2012 VP[sub]113[/sub], which means it has been given the nickname “Biden”. It’s also apparently feeling a little bit detached.

It’s cold out there every day.

It is the farthest-out object yet discovered in the Solar System. Another dwarf planet also discovered.

I like how they nicknamed it “Biden” after the VP.

Though that could be taken as a hint that he belongs far, far away. :wink:

Current thread.

I’ve merged two threads about this.

It’s a pity that neither of the Voyagers happened to notice it on their way out – or is there still a chance we could get some (relatively) close-up pix?

Every body is a star…
…–Sly and the Family Stone

Well, if there is such a planet, then it is apparent due to its gravitational influence, hence the current speculation!

But this hypothetical planet could be up to 100 AU out from the Sun, so its gravitational influence on any solar system bodies would be miniscule. It would only have any affect on far off Oort Cloud objects, like what Sedna and “Biden” might be. An Earth-sized planet that far away would be very difficult to directly see, but if more of these weird objects are found between the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud, it would provide indirect evidence of such a planet.

Space is really really big, so even if two objects are the same distance from the Sun, they could be off in different directions, and be nowhere near each other.

Very Unlikely

“NASA’s latest survey puts even less credence in that theory. A scan of the sky showed nothing Saturn’s size or bigger at a distance of 10,000 Earth-sun distances, or astronomical units. Nothing bigger than Jupiter exists as far as 26,000 AU. (To put that in perspective, Pluto is 40 AU from the sun.)”

Not sure why you would think either of the Voyagers came anywhere close to it.

I think he’s assuming that had we known its orbit, we might have been able to sling one of them towards it on its last planetary flyby.

Depending on where they are it is possible that New Horizon’s probe can do that, after visiting Pluto on a fly-by it’s mission plan already includes to visit something out there. Yet they still need to find that something.

It will take decades to get to this dwarf planet, after NH leaves Pluto. And this hypothetical planet out there - it might take thousands of years to get there. I read a theory that such attempts are best not undertaken with current technology, since such a spacecraft would be overtaken by a faster one launched even many centuries later.

Thank you, Douglas Adams,

I’ve heard that theory too, but you have to start somewhere and after all Voyager 1 is traveling faster the New Horizons and that was decades before New Horizons.