Sergei Belukhin, March 15, 10:00
NASA astronomers have discovered the largest object orbiting the Sun. It is comparable in size to Pluto, although it is much more.
The new facility was opened in the study of infrared telescope Spitzer, which has recently been launched into space. Yeo also said, and another orbiting telescope —
The planet, consisting of ice and rocks, was named Sedna — in honor of the sea goddess Eskimos.
Sedna orbits the Sun at a distance of almost 10 billion miles, one and a half times larger than the radius of the orbit of Pluto. As is known, for its orbit is the accumulation of tens of thousands of relatively small space debris — the so-called Kuiper belt. These rocks and chunks of ice 5 billion years ago participated in the formation of the solar system.
In this region of space, astronomers from time to time are quite large specimens, but open Sedna now stands alone. Its size is still uncertain, but, according to preliminary estimates, is about two thousand miles — but experts do not rule out that Sedna may be even larger than Pluto whose diameter — 2250 kilometers. Note that to determine the size of the planet, located as far away from us, challenging himself Pluto was discovered in 1930, but its diameter was measured accurately only a few years ago.
Although every textbook of astronomy black and white, that nine of the solar system planets, scientists are still arguing about where the boundary between planets and smaller celestial bodies. Some believe that Pluto is not even deserve to be called a planet because it is too small — two and a half times smaller than Mercury. Many space objects with even smaller sizes, have not received the status of planets — for example, the 1280-kilometer Quaoar, located 1.5 billion kilometers beyond Pluto.
But the size of Sedna, apparently zastyavyat recognize her planet majority of scientists who agree that Pluto itself is. For this is the fact that it has a constant orbit.
Details on its unique discovery, NASA experts will tell tonight at a special press conference.