New ‘Miniplanets’ Are Found Beyond Neptune

While most astronomers are clinging to the idea that our solar system only has eight planets, others are claiming vehemently that Pluto should also count as a planet, as many of us learned in school. The funny thing is that both groups could be wrong.

The solar system is way bigger and unexplored than we might think. At the same time when astronomers are gathering data about Mars to understand if humans can ever live there, other nearby cosmic objects can also be colonized in the far future, like some moons of Saturn and Jupiter. This was just an example, and here comes the newest part:

100 trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs)

These objects are too small to classify as planets, of course. But the discovery of the most recent 100 pieces by the Dark Energy Survey (DES), opens the path for further investigations of such objects. The outcome offers hope for the researchers that one day they’ll even discover the hypothetical Ninth Planet from our solar system. And no, Pluto doesn’t count because it’s just a protoplanet. The leader of the study was the graduate student Pedro Bernardinelli and the professors Gary Bernstein and Masao Sako.

Astronomers already knew that trans-Neptunian objects exist, but now they discovered 100 more besides the other 200 already discovered. This is a big number, and nobody knows if they could have found even more such ‘miniplanets’.

Speaking of the unknown part of the Solar System, Gary Bernstein says:

There are lots of ideas about giant planets that used to be in the solar system and aren’t there anymore, or planets that are far away and massive but too faint for us to have noticed yet,

Making the catalog is the fun discovery part. Then when you create this resource; you can compare what you did find to what somebody’s theory said you should find.

The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.


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