Scientists have recently discovered a new dwarf planet in our solar system. The planet can be found on the outskirts of the system, beyond Pluto, rotating around the sun. The new object is called 2014 UZ224 and has a diameter of around 330 miles (530 km).
While other scientists are trying to discover and learn more about the outer reaches of space, others are busy finding new planets even in our own backyard. The term ‘backyard’ is an understatement as the new dwarf planet is located about 3.5 billion miles (13.7 billion km) from the sun.
While a year on Pluto, the time it takes to complete a rotation around the sun, takes only 248 Earth years, a year on 2014 UZ224 is considerably longer. Because of its distance from the sun, its orbit is considerably longer and it takes 1,100 Earth years to be completed.
According to David Gerdes, an astronomy professor at the University of Michigan, the new dwarf planet was discovered using a Dark Energy Camera (DECam). This instrument was built with the purpose of observing galaxies and other celestial bodies moving away from Earth because of the expansion of the Universe through dark energy.
The discovery and confirmation of the 2014 UZ224 dwarf planet was a two-year process. Scientists don’t have the full representation of the planet’s orbit. However, they can state with certainty that as of yet, 2014 UZ224 is the third farthest away object in our solar system. Although the object is commonly called a dwarf planet, 2014 UZ224 might be too small for this classification. It is almost twice as small the Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, which has a diameter of 750 miles (1, 200 km).
The final decision regarding its status lies with the Astronomical Union which also demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet. Although 2014 ZU224 might be the newest discovered object similar to a dwarf planet, it sure isn’t the only one. Currently, there are four recognized dwarf planets and scientists think there could be dozens or hundreds of other objects of similar size.
Some scientists even believe that the outer regions of our solar system may even contain a planet with the size of Neptune, unofficially called Planet Nine. Currently, there are several research efforts with the purpose of finding this planet.
What do you think about this new dwarf planet?
Image source: Wikimedia