Could the discovery help us eventually find the elusive Planet Nine?
A big discovery 8.5 billion miles from the sun has scientists talking. Researchers at the University of Michigan believe they’ve found a new dwarf planet that is 30 miles across, and are calling it 2014 UZ224 for the time being, according to an NPR report.
The dwarf takes approximatelyl 1,100 years to complete an orbit. David Gerdes, who led the research team, has been using the Dark Energy Camera from the U.S. Department of Energy to map distance galaxies, but recently he challenged undergraduates to find solar system objects with it by looking for things that move.
Gerdes is hopeful that this technique may help him someday discover the rumored Planet Nine, a large planet that may be in the very distant edge of the solar system based on gravitational clues scientists have noticed in recent years.
A Caltech statement from earlier this year noted that researchers at the university had “found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system.
“The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles),” the statement reads. “In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.”