Researchers Discover Distant Dwarf Planet Beyond Neptune

A diagram shows the 700-year orbit of the newly discovered dwarf planet. Photo by Alex Parker/OSSOS

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 11 (UPI) — A new dwarf planet has been discovered orbiting among the icy ring of debris beyond Neptune. The object was named 2015 RR245 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

The discovery was made by a group of international scientists participating in the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, OSSOS. The survey uses a computer algorithm to scan images captured by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope for unidentified orbital objects.

Because the dwarf planet is so far away — twice as far as Neptune is from Earth — measuring its surface qualities isn’t easy.

“It’s either small and shiny, or large and dull,” Michele Bannister, an astronomer at the University of Victoria and a postdoctoral fellow with OSSOS, said in a news release.

Astronomers believe there are thousands of trans-Neptunian objects, tiny worlds much smaller than RR245. Because they’re so small and so far away, many of them are nearly impossible to see. There used to be even more dwarf planets like RR245, but the gravity of gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter flung many of them into interstellar space as they migrated toward the outer reaches of the solar system.

So far, OSSOS has yielded 5,000 trans-Neptunian objects, but only one dwarf planet — 2015 RR245.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here