The universe is certainly an unbelievably vast place- a pandora’s box to be precise. Even though man has been able to conquer a major part of the celestial world by launching satellites and spacecrafts, many of its regions are still left unexplored. Now, researchers have discovered and confirmed 840 small worlds in distant, hard-to-reach area beyond Neptune. This is the single largest finding of planets ever made and increases the number of distant planets around the sun by 50%.
Here’s all you want to know about the latest discovery:
1. The latest discovery is a result of a five year project called the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS). By using the imaging camera installed on Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, researchers looked for faint, slow-moving points of light within eight big patches of sky near the plane of the planets and away from the dense stars of the Milky Way and discovered 840 small planets at distances between six and 83 astronomical units (au). Astronomical unit is the average distance between Earth and the Sun, which is used to measure distances within our solar system.
2. The new rocky objects can be divided into two groups- first, those that move on roundish orbits in the Kuiper belt that extends from 37 au to 50 au from the sun. Second, the worlds that orbit in careful avoidance with Neptune as it travels around the sun. These are known as “resonant” trans-Neptunian objects and include Pluto. They were moved into their current elongated orbits during Neptune’s planetary migration outwards from the sun disk.
3. The planetary objects are also known as “trans-Neptunian objects”. These are little iced worlds that will help tell the history of the solar system.
4. The latest discovery will help map the minor planet populations that went outward from the sun’s disk and thus help to reconstruct how the larger planets were pushed into their orbits.
5. The discovery of these icy objects have raised the possibility of undiscovered planets in the outer region of the solar system.