Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Further On Out The Solar System Road

Image result for planet xEnvironmental & Science Education
Solar System
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

In 2018, Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, D.C., announced the discovery of a new dwarf planet that was 120 times farther from the sun than is Earth. They gave it what they thought was an appropriate nick-name, “Far Out.”

Now he and his colleagues have found a dwarf planet even farther out, 140 times farther from the sun than is Earth. So what did they call it? “Far Far Out.”

Sheppard and his colleagues Chad Trujillo at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and David Tholen at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu are in search of larger game, a hypothesized 9th planet often referred to as Planet 9 or Planet X.  It is thought to be about the size of Neptune and patrols an elliptical orbit that goes around the sun every 15,000 years.

This is the place where the dwarf planets come into play. Their orbits, yet to be determined, would be shaped by this much larger planet. The orbit shapes will take several years to determine. An earlier discovery by Sheppard known as “Goblin” (found around Halloween 2015) has an orbit that suggest influence by Planet 9/X. If the three orbits are clustered, the evidence for the large planet would be greatly increased.

Paul Voosen an Earth and planetary writer for Science has a short article about this announcement. 

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