Trio Makes Discoveries in the Kuiper Belt

Trio Makes Discoveries in the Kuiper Belt

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On July 29th, three astronomers identified what they believe to be a 10th planet. The same astronomers have made two other discoveries in the last year. They’ve found two new objects orbitting Pluto. They don’t believe they are planets, though they confess they aren’t really sure what they are.

They’ve given the objects the names: Xena, Santa, and Easterbunny (the last two named after the time of year they were discovered). The three new objects are the largest object found in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is located at the edge of the solar system. The object floating in this area area are known as KBOs (Kuiper Belt Objects). Some argue that Pluto is not a planet, but a KBO.

Pluto is about 3 billions miles from Earth. “Xena”, the largest of the objects, is at least 9 billion miles away and the other two about 5 million miles away. The objects behave peculiarly and are odd shaped. One of the objects is larger than Pluto and is cigar shaped. The object known as Xena appears to be have a water ice surface. The object known as Easterbunny is said to be much like Pluto.

The astronomers who made the discovery are Michael E. Brown, David Rabinovitz, and Chadwick A. Trujillo. The group will continue investigating the Kuiper Belt where many strange objects are known to reside.

[Image is an artist’s depiction of what the new planet might look with our sun off in the distance. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

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