New Scientist Space.Com is reporting the discovery of a new "planet" in our solar system. Beyond Pluto is the Kuiper belt of rocky objects, this unnamed planetary body is the largest object yet discovered orbiting our Sun beyond the orbit of Pluto. First analysis put its size twice that of Pluto, but further study has sized this rocky globe at roughly 70% the size of Pluto.
As if that wasn't impressive enough, this new "planet" is being orbited by a small moon. Expect a serious debate among astronomers over the definition of "planet" in the months ahead.
With a highly irregular orbit, and a solar year yet to be reported, this object orbits at 51 Astronomical Units from the Sun - 1 AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Its orbit brings it comes as close to the Sun as 35 AU, while Pluto maintains an average distance of about 39 AU. It is also tilted 28° out of sync with the normal orbital plane of most of the planets in our solar sytem. Pluto is tilted 17°.
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