Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Yet Another Trans-Neptunian Planet Found

YET ANOTHER 'SECOND BIGGEST' TRANS-NEPTUNIAN PLANET FOUND

The discovery has been announced of yet another tiny planet beyond Neptune, second only to Pluto in size. The object is designated 2003 VB12 and is presently 89 times Earth's distance from the sun. It was noticed as a very faint, very slow-moving 'star' on pictures taken with the 1.2-metre Schmidt camera at Mt Palomar, California in November 2003. It was then found on photos back to 2001 and has been tracked at several observatories during 2004. It is extremely faint, magnitude 21, one- millionth of the brightness of the faintest star the eye can see.

The orbit of 2003 VB12 is very elliptical. At its closest in 2076 it will be 11 billion km from the sun, 75 times Earth's distance or twice Pluto's average distance. Its greatest distance is 1000 times our distance, or 150 billion km from the sun. It takes approximately 12 000 years to complete one orbit.

The size of 2003 VB12 can be estimated only from its brightness; it is much too small and distant to see any planetary disk. The size estimate depends on assumptions about the reflectivity or whiteness of the object. A small light-coloured planet will appear as bright as a large dark planet. Early indications are that 2003 VB12 is around 1500 km in diameter but with a large uncertainty. The Spitzer Space Telescope, working in the infra-red, was unable to detect the asteroid, showing it can't be more than 1700 km in diameter. To get this in perspective, Pluto, with a diameter of 2400 km, is 1/500th of Earth's mass, or one- fifth a heavy as our moon.

Technically, 2003 VB12 has an absolute magnitude (H) of 1.7. The next largest trans-Neptunian, 2004 DW, found in February, has an H of 2.2. Asteroid (50 000) Quaoar, the previous second-largest trans-Neptunian, is 2.6. Pluto's absolute magnitude is -1.0, but it is probably much whiter than the other trans-Neptunian asteroids because its frost layer is renewed at every perihelion.

All three 'second biggest' planets, Quaoar, 2004 DW and 2003 VB12 have been discovered by the same team led by Dr Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, along with Drs. Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, Hawaii, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. They have given the unofficial name "Sedna" for the Inuit goddess of the ocean, to 2003 VB12. There is a fashion for referring to the next biggest planet after Pluto as 'the 10th planet'. This is misleading since Pluto, the so-called Ninth Planet, is simply the largest, so far, and first discovered, of the cloud of small icy asteroids beyond Neptune. All evidence shows that there are no big planets -- even as small as earth size! -- beyond Neptune.

- The 2003 VB12 information above is from International Astronomical Union Circular No. 8304; Minor Planet Electronic Circular 2004-E45; and NASA News Release 2004-085 forwarded by Dr Grant Christie.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Onetai Station: Overseas Investment Office Puts Ceol & Muir On Notice

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has issued a formal warning to Ceol & Muir and its owners, Argentinian brothers Rafael and Federico Grozovsky, for failing to provide complete and accurate information when they applied to buy Onetai Station in 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Tomorrow, The UN: Feds President Takes Reins At World Farming Body

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston has been appointed acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) at a meeting in Geneva overnight. More>>

ALSO:

I Sing The Highway Electric: Charge Net NZ To Connect New Zealand

BMW is turning Middle Earth electric after today announcing a substantial contribution to the charging network Charge Net NZ. This landmark partnership will enable Kiwis to drive their electric vehicles (EVs) right across New Zealand through the installation of a fast charging highway stretching from Kaitaia to Invercargill. More>>

ALSO:

Watch This Space: Mahia Rocket Lab Launch Site Officially Opened

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce today opened New Zealand’s first orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast. More>>

Earlier:

Marketing Rocks!
Ig Nobel Award Winners Assess The Personality Of Rocks

A Massey University marketing lecturer has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics for a research project that asked university students to describe the “brand personalities” of three rocks. More>>

ALSO:

Nurofen Promotion: Reckitt Benckiser To Plead Guilty To Misleading Ads

Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to charges of misleading consumers over the way it promoted a range of Nurofen products, the Commerce Commission says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news