How much do we really know about our solar system? After hundreds of years of research and observation, it may feel that we know nearly everything. However, it seems that there is still a lot to learn and discover about the planetary neighborhood we live in.
According to the recent estimates, there are hundreds of dwarf planets in the Kuiper belt and Oort Cloud on the outskirts of our solar system which are yet to be discovered. Earlier this month, a new dwarf planet was found and turned out to be the most distant celestial body in the solar system, known so far.
The distance between the newly discovered dwarf planet called V774104 and the sun is approximately 9.6 billion miles, which is at least twice as the distance from our home star to Pluto. V774104 is less than half Pluto’s size and is probably a frozen planet, considering its distance from the sun.
It is estimated that the dwarf planet’s orbit is two or three times larger than Plutos, but at the moment it can’t be said with certainty since the scientists still don’t have much information about its exact orbit.
“That’s pretty much all we know about it. We don’t know its orbit yet because we only just discovered it about two weeks ago,” Scott Sheppard, an astronomer of the Carnegie Institution for Science, told Space.com.
V774104 was detected by the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. This massive 8-meter (26 feet) telescope is able to rapidly monitor extensive areas of the sky and collect large amounts of light in a short time, which allows it to detect faint objects in the outer solar system.
Sheppard, together with Chadwick Trujillo, has been long studying the area beyond the Kuiper Belt to shed more light on the formation and the early evolution of our solar system. As they suggest, there could be a massive object on the outskirts of our planetary neighborhood that is responsible for gravity disturbances among the distant dwarf planets like Sedna and VP113.
“Some of these inner Oort Cloud objects could rival the size of Mars, or even Earth,” Sheppard said in a statement. “This is because many of the inner Oort Cloud objects are so distant that even very large ones would be too faint to detect with current technology.”
Just imagine how many celestial bodies remain undiscovered in our cosmic neighborhood and how little we yet know about the universe we live in. Considering the fact that our own solar system is just a tiny corner in the enormous universe, the possibilities of what could exist out there are just endless.