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  • New clues in search for Planet Nine

    07/05/2016 6:11:20 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 30 replies
    Science News ^ | 5 Jul, 2016 | CHRISTOPHER CROCKETT
    More clues about where to search for a possible ninth planet lurking in the fringes of our solar system are emerging from the Kuiper belt, the icy debris field beyond Neptune. And new calculations suggest that the putative planet might be brighter — and a bit easier to find — than once thought. Evidence for the existence of Planet Nine is scant, based on apparent alignments among the orbits of the six most distant denizens of the Kuiper belt (SN: 2/20/16, p. 6). Their oval orbits all point in roughly the same direction and lie in about the same plane,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto at Night

    06/09/2016 2:44:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 09, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The night side of Pluto spans this shadowy scene. The spacebased view with the Sun behind the distant world was captured by New Horizons last July. The spacecraft was at a range of over 21,000 kilometers, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto's tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains informally known as Sputnik Planum and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.
  • Stolen World: 'Planet 9' Likely Came from Another Star

    06/02/2016 7:40:16 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 44 replies
    Space.com ^ | 1 Jun, 2016 | Mike Wall
    There may be an alien planet lurking within Earth's own solar system. If the hypothetical Planet Nine does indeed exist, the sun probably ripped the world away from another star long ago, a new study suggests. "It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light-years away in other solar systems, there's probably one hiding in our own backyard," study lead author Alexander Mustill, an astronomer at Lund University in Sweden, said in a statement. [The Evidence for Planet Nine in Pictures]. Earlier this year, astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, both of the California Institute of...
  • New Horizons sets sights on its next target, a mysterious object at solar system's edge

    05/06/2016 6:37:23 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    Known as 2014 MU69, the object is thought to be unchanged since the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.... ... Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel submitted plans last month to NASA to fly past the relatively tiny chunk of icy matter on New Year's Day 2019. If NASA approves it, the extended New Horizon mission could give a close-up view of what has so far only appeared to scientists as a faint dot of light. ... The object is in a 300-year orbit around the sun in the Kuiper Belt, a region of space beyond...
  • Scientists just found more evidence that Planet Nine exists in our Solar System

    03/29/2016 8:09:38 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 48 replies
    http://www.sciencealert.com ^ | 29 MAR 2016 | Bec Crew
    And this new planet could be huge. Back in January, the astronomer who led the charge to have Pluto demoted to dwarf planet status announced that he’d just found evidence that a huge, icy planet could be lurking on the edge of the Solar System, just past Neptune. Mike Brown, a planetary astronomer at Caltech University, estimated that the hypothetical 'Planet Nine' appears to be circling the Sun on a super-elongated orbit that takes an incredible 10,000 to 20,000 years to complete. And now, thanks to a newly detected Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) that’s acting really strange, Brown says the...
  • What is the Oort Cloud?

    08/10/2015 4:36:14 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Matt Williams
    The Oort Cloud is a theoretical spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals that is believed to surround the Sun at a distance of up to around 100,000 AU (2 ly). This places it in interstellar space, beyond the Sun’s Heliosphere where it defines the cosmological boundary between the Solar System and the region of the Sun’s gravitational dominance. Like the Kuiper Belt and the Scattered Disc, the Oort Cloud is a reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, though it is over a thousands times more distant from our Sun as these other two. The idea of a cloud of icy infinitesimals was...
  • Stealing Sedna

    08/06/2015 11:25:26 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    Universe Today ^ | David Dickinson
    From the start, Sedna was an odd-ball. Its 11,400 year orbit takes it from a perihelion of 76 astronomical units (for context, Neptune is an average of 30 AUs from the Sun) to an amazing 936 AUs from the Sun. (A thousand AUs is 1.6% of a light year, and 0.4% of the way to Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system). Currently at a distance of 86 AU and headed towards perihelion in 2076, we’re lucky we caught Sedna as it ‘neared’ (we use the term ‘near’ loosely in this case!) the Sun. But this strange path...
  • We're Pumped Up About Visiting Pluto After Seeing This NASA Video

    06/13/2015 7:28:00 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    Popular Science TV ^ | June 12th, 2015 | Sarah Fecht
    In July, New Horizons crosses the next great frontier in our solar system. Mankind is about to visit one of the strangest places in our solar system. Out beyond Neptune, the Kuiper belt is home to hordes of cold, lumpy worlds -- some of which are large enough to have their own moons, but none of which we've seen up-close before. That's going to change this summer, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by "the king of the Kuiper belt": Pluto. It's no longer considered a planet, but Pluto is still an important member of our solar system, and one...
  • On the Fringe: Astronomers look to the Kuiper belt for clues to the solar system's history

    01/14/2010 3:15:11 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies · 732+ views
    Science News ^ | January 16th, 2010 | Ron Cowen
    Beyond Neptune lies a reservoir of... icy debris left to roam the solar system's dim outer limits having never coalesced into planets... Named for astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who in 1951 predicted the existence of this 3-billion-kilometer-wide swath of icy chunks, the Kuiper belt didn't begin to reveal itself to observers until 1992. Since then, researchers have found more than a thousand bodies filling a doughnut-shaped belt, which extends 30 to about 50 astronomical units from the sun. One astronomical unit is the average distance between the Earth and sun... The puffed-up, elongated orbits and present-day sparseness of the belt all...
  • Rosetta Instrument Reignites Debate on Earth's Oceans

    12/11/2014 2:15:28 AM PST · by iowamark · 27 replies
    NASA ^ | 12/10/14
    The question about the origin of oceans on Earth is one of the most important questions with respect to the formation of our planet and the origin of life. The most popular theory is that water was brought by impacts of comets and asteroids. Data from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The findings were published today in the journal Science. Researchers agree that water must have been delivered to Earth by small bodies at a later...
  • Three New "Plutos"? Possible Dwarf Planets Found

    08/16/2011 12:47:34 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 21 replies
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com ^ | Published August 11, 2011 | Rachel Kaufman
    Small objects could be rounded worlds, based on likely sizes, experts say. Three relatively bright space rocks recently found in Pluto's neighborhood may be new members of the dwarf planet family, astronomers say. The objects were discovered in a little studied section of the Kuiper belt, a region of the solar system that starts beyond the orbit of Neptune and extends 5.1 billion miles (8.2 billion kilometers) from the sun. Astronomer Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and colleagues found the bodies using the 1.3-meter Warsaw University Telescope at Las Campanas in Chile. The region of the Kuiper...
  • An Unknown Planet Orbits in the Outer Solar System

    08/05/2007 6:22:36 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 58 replies · 1,200+ views
    A theory is hereby proposed that an unknown mega-massive planet has, for billions of years, been orbiting at 77.2 AU from the sun -- within a 44 AU-wide, virtually empty Great Void that surrounds the Kuiper Belt (One AU = 93 million miles, the mean Earth-Sun distance). The Void is postulated to have been formed by strong gravitational attraction of the unknown planet having removed all CKBOs (Classical Kuiper Belt Objects) that had existed previously in the vicinity of the massive planet's huge orbit... The 77.2 AU distance from the sun of the proposed unknown planet is derived from a...
  • Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system

    03/29/2014 1:03:08 AM PDT · by chessplayer · 48 replies
    Astronomers have increased the size of the observable solar system after spotting a 450-km wide object orbiting the sun. The lump of ice and rock circles the sun at a greater distance than any known object, and never gets closer than 12bn kilometres – 80 times the distance from Earth to the sun. If its size is confirmed it could qualify as a dwarf planet in the same category as Pluto. Though exciting in its own right, the discovery raises a more tantalising prospect for many astronomers: that a "Super Earth" up to 10 times the mass of our planet...
  • Scientists Nickname Planet-Like Object 'Biden'

    03/27/2014 1:16:15 PM PDT · by bestintxas · 56 replies
    newsmax ^ | 3/27/14 | c coren
    It's official name is "2012 VP-113." But astronomers have nicknamed the newly discovered planet-like object on the edge of the solar system "Biden." Smiling Joe, nick-named for Vice President Joe Biden, is 7 billion miles away from the sun and has its own celestial body, The Washington Post reported. Biden is quite small at 280 miles in diameter, and scientists say it could be dwarf planet. Pluto, which was deemed a dwarf planet in 2006 has a diameter of 1,430 miles. By contrast, Earth is 7,900 miles across. It has a temperature of minus 430 degrees Fahrenheit and is likely...
  • New planet nicknamed after Biden

    03/26/2014 10:15:21 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 41 replies
    The Hill's Briefing Room ^ | March 26, 2014 | Justin Sink
    Astronomers have nicknamed a new dwarf planet circling the sun at the outer edges of the solar system after Vice President Joe Biden. According to Nature, a leading scientific journal, the object's official designation is 2012 VP113. But the team studying its orbit around the sun colloquially refer to the planet as just "VP" or "Biden," after the sitting vice president. The object won't carry an official title until scientists collect more data. After determining its orbit, they'll submit a formal name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for consideration. The Biden dwarf is the second such object to be...
  • A planet past Pluto? Astronomers redefine the solar system's edge

    03/26/2014 1:03:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 53 replies
    FoxNews.com ^ | March 26, 2014/
    Scientists at the Carnegie Carnegie Institution for Science announced Wednesday the discovery of a new cosmic neighbor -- a distant dwarf planet named 2012 VP113 that was found spinning in the depths of space well past Pluto. Its existence suggests there may be another actual planet out there, they said, a rogue giant ten times bigger than Earth orbiting in the distant blackness
  • Newfound pink world lurks at solar system fringes

    03/26/2014 12:06:45 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 45 replies
    www.utsandiego.com ^ | 03-26-2014 | By ALICIA CHANG
    <p>LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peering into the far reaches of the solar system, astronomers have spied a pink frozen world 7½ billion miles from the sun.</p> <p>It's the second such object to be discovered in a region of space beyond Pluto long considered a celestial wasteland. Until now, the lone known resident in this part of the solar system was an oddball dwarf planet spotted in 2003 named Sedna after the mythological Inuit goddess who created the sea creatures of the Arctic.</p>
  • Media Advisory: Press Conference in Brazil to Announce Discovery in Outer Solar System

    03/26/2014 7:59:37 AM PDT · by SpinnerWebb · 92 replies
    European Southern Observatory ^ | 25 March 2014 | ann14021
    An international team of astronomers, led by Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), has used telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, to make a surprise discovery in the outer Solar System. This unexpected result raises several unanswered questions and is expected to provoke much debate. A press conference will be held in Brazil to present the new results and allow opportunities for questions. Note that all information regarding these findings is under strict embargo until 19:00 CET (15:00 BRT) on Wednesday 26 March...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 2012 VP113: A New Furthest Known Orbit in the Solar System

    04/01/2014 5:37:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | March 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What object has the furthest known orbit in our Solar System? In terms of how close it will ever get to the Sun, the new answer is 2012 VP113, an object currently over twice the distance of Pluto from the Sun. Pictured above is a series of discovery images taken with the Dark Energy Camera attached to the NOAO's Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile in 2012 and released last week. The distant object, seen moving on the lower right, is thought to be a dwarf planet like Pluto. Previously, the furthest known dwarf planet was Sedna, discovered in 2003....
  • The Obama Legacy in Planetary Exploration

    01/06/2014 9:19:21 AM PST · by Farnsworth · 28 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 04, 2014 | Mark V. Sykes
    It is frustrating, at a time when other nations are in ascendancy in space, that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama seems committed to undermining the nation's own solar system exploration program. The Obama administration cut NASA's planetary-sciences budget by 20 percent in 2013. It has taken the National Research Council's (NRC) recommendations for prioritizing planetary investments in bad economic times and turned those recommendations upside down. The administration continues to favor large, directed projects at the expense of programs and missions that are openly competed.