#Pluto #Planet – New Dwarf Planet Located Far From Pluto : There’s a new dwarf planet in the solar system to join Pluto and a number of others. Discovered by University of Michigan astrophysicist David Gerdes and a team of undergraduate researchers, the planet, named 2014 UZ224 for now, is located past Pluto and the Kuiper belt, around 8.5 billion miles from the sun, the Washington Post reports.
About the size of Iowa – half as big as Pluto — UZ224 was presented in the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Electronic Circulator, joining a list of dwarf planets that include Ceres, Eris, Haumea and Makemake. Scientists believe there may be as many as a hundred more awaiting discovery.
Gerdes is a member of an international group of scientists working on the Dark Energy Survey – a project that seeks to map out the universe and shed some light on why it’s expanding at an incredible rate. The survey needed a dark energy camera in Cerro Tololo, Chile that could capture wide-angle images of the sky.
Gerdes handed his students one of the images and asked them to point out all the objects in the solar system. Working with Gerdes, the team developed software that could identify cosmic bodies that were moving, and identified around six new ones in the first few months. The same software discovered UZ224, and Gerdes closely monitored the then-unidentified body to map out its orbit.
Its exact path remains unclear, as it can take over 1,000 years for the dwarf planet to complete a loop around the sun, but scientists think UZ224 might be the third most-distant object in the solar system. It might not even be a proper dwarf planet, Gerdes says, because of its small size.
But for now, that’s what it is. In the meantime, Gerdes and the team are searching for Planet Nine, supposedly a giant icy planet lurking somewhere in the vastness of the solar system that might take Pluto’s place and bring back the former total number of planets. Source: Immortal.org