Mysterious mile-wide object spotted at edge of our solar system

Mindy Sparks
February 1, 2019

For the first time in history, astronomers have identified a 1.3 km radius object. The existence of such objects, which are intermediate between the clusters of dust and ice and full-fledged planets, predicted 70 years ago, but still like them the nuclei of the planets in the Solar system were observed.

The Kuiper Belt was named in honor of Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who postulated a reservoir of icy bodies beyond Neptune. But they tend to be much larger - such as the dwarf planet Pluto or the 20-mile-wide (32 km) Ultima Thule, both of which NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has flown by - or a bit smaller (less than 0.6 miles, or 1 km, wide). In our inner Solar System, we can see many of these larger rocks, or asteroids. It's a small body on the scale of a few kilometers. Researchers contend such objects were essential to the formation of the solar systems first planets, representing a missing link in planetary evolution. They can be studied in order to learn some information but they have been compromised by the exposure to solar radiation and solar winds. The difficulties come over in observing these objects directly as they are too small, tiny, dim, and distant. Arimatsu called their discovery a "real victory" for small projects, especially since they had less than 0.3 percent of the funding large worldwide projects receive.

To achieve a challenging occultation observation, the scientists launched an observation project using amateur telescopes, named the Organized Autotelescopes for Serendipitous Event Survey (OASES).

This detection suggests that Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects are more numerous than previously thought - and could mean that this is a key stage in the development of planets. "We didn't even have enough money to build a second dome to protect our second telescope!" "Yet we still managed to make a discovery that is impossible for the big projects", Arimatsu said in a statement.

While analyzing the data the team was able to observe that star became dimmer when an object that measured approximately 1.3 kilometers passes right by the front of it. "Our team had less than 0.3 percent of the budget of large global projects".

"We also have our sights set on the still undiscovered Oort Cloud out beyond that", Arimatsu said, referring to the solar system's comet repository, which is thought to harbor trillions of icy objects.

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