A pink dwarf planet, nicknamed “Biden” after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has been discovered beyond Pluto, about 7.5 billion miles from the sun in an area of the solar system previously believed to not have any objects.
“The detection of 2012 VP113 confirms that Sedna is not an isolated object; instead, both bodies may be members of the inner Oort cloud, whose objects could outnumber all other dynamically stable populations in the Solar System,” said the report posted on the journal Nature’s website
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The dwarf planet, thought to be composed of mostly ice and rock, is believed to be the most distant object that is orbiting the sun with an orbit that takes about 4,000 years to complete. The pink color is likely result of radiation combined with methane, carbon dioxide, and frozen water, scientists said. The planet measures about 280 miles wide.
Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Scott Sheppard of Carnegie Institution for Science discovered the planetoid in 2012 while working together at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. They believe the dwarf planet is the source for long-period comets.
“They’re in no man’s land,” Sheppard said, according to Forbes.
“People wondered if Sedna was unique, and 10 years on, we have at last found another object that shows it is not. There is probably a large population of objects out there.”
Sedna is another dwarf planet discovered in 2003.
“It goes to show that there’s something we don’t know about our solar system, and it’s something important,” Trujillo told Nature. “We’re starting to get a taste of what’s out beyond what we consider the edge.”
Sedna and Biden may have initially formed closer to the sun and but eventually were sent further into the solar system by gravitational forces.
In 2006, astronomers ruled that Pluto is no longer a “true” planet but rather a dwarf planet.
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