The Kuiper Belt contains few small bodies, according to a new report from the Southwest Research Institute. This collection of rocks and ice surrounds our planetary system like a massive doughnut, larger than the orbit of Neptune. Photographs taken of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, show few craters, suggesting that the Kuiper Belt, in which Pluto resides, contains few small objects, less than a mile in diameter. Researchers are uncertain why the grouping contains so few small bodies.Read More The Big Mystery of the Kuiper Belt — a Lack of Small Objects
Since 2016, astronomers have been searching for a ninth planet some researchers believe may be hiding at the edge of our family of planets. The orbits of some trans-Neptunian objects, or TNO’s, suggest that another planet is waiting out there to be discovered. Astronomers at the University of Michigan recently released a study suggesting that such a world will likely be found, or ruled out, in the next 10 to 15 years, as new observatories come online. Pluto was once considered to be the ninth planet, by was re-designated as a dwarf planet in 2006.Read More The Reasons We May Soon Find Planet Nine
The New Horizons spacecraft made a close encounter with Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day, making this the most distant body ever visited by a robotic explorer. The color images returned by the vehicle show the object resembles a red-colored snowman 31 kilometers (19 miles) in length. Exploration of Ultima Thule could help astronomers answer mysteries about comets and the formation of the Solar System. New Horizons made history in 2015, when it became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto.Read More A Giant Red Snowman in Space? New Horizons Returns First Color Images of Ultima Thule
The New Horizons spacecraft is racing toward an encounter with the most-distant object ever visited by humans. Ultima Thule is a member of the Kuiper Belt, a collection of icy, rocky bodies at the edge of our planetary system, well beyond the orbit of the most distant planet, Neptune. New Horizons made history in 2015, when it became the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. The encounter will occur on New Year’s Day.Read More New Horizons Races Toward Encounter with Ultima Thule — Most Distant World Ever Studied
Astronomers have found the most distant dwarf planet in our Solar System yet discovered. Known as VG18, this distant world is being called Farout by astronomers, due to it great distance from the Sun, roughly 120 times further away from our parent star as the Earth. Observations reveal this body, roughly 500 kilometers (or 300 miles) in diameter, has a pink surface, suggesting the world is covered in ice. Astronomers in Hawaii discovered the world while searching for a ninth planet, which some astronomers believe waits to be found in the far reaches of the Solar System.Read More Farout! Most Distant Dwarf Planet in Solar System Found – and it’s Pink!
Astronomers have discovered a previously-unknown dwarf planet, nicknamed Goblin, orbiting beyond the orbit of Neptune. This tiny world takes 40,000 years to travel once around the Sun, and it never comes closer than 65 times the distance between the Earth and our parent star. Computer simulations show the orbit of this world may be influenced by a distant, larger body astronomers are dubbing Planet X.Read More Goblin the Dwarf Planet Discovered at the Edge of the Solar System
Planet Nine could exist at the most distant reaches of our solar system, according to observations of the orbits of far-flung objects. This theoretical world would be 10 times as massive as Earth, and take between 10 and 20,000 years to orbit the Sun. However, such a planet would be so dark and distant that some astronomers speculate it may be 1,000 years before we discover it.Read More Is Planet Nine Hiding at the Edge of the Solar System?
A wall of hydrogen gas in the distant solar system has been spotted by astronomers. The object was seen in ultraviolet light by the New Horizons spacecraft, which visited Pluto in 2015. This wall is formed when hydrogen from the sun meets gas floating between the stars, and is compacted as our family of planets travels through the galaxy.Read More New Horizons Views Hydrogen Wall Near Edge of Solar System