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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 21

Solar System's Chilling Mystery

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2004 05:57:01 -0800
Fwd Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2004 12:48:57 -0500
Subject: Solar System's Chilling Mystery

Source: The Scotsman


21 Feb 2004

Solar system's chilling mystery

Alastair Dalton
Science Correspondent

Astronomers believe they have found the largest object in the
solar system since the discovery of Pluto in 1930.

The frozen celestial body or planetoid, named 2004 DW, is 4.4
billion miles from Earth and appears to be more than half the
size of Pluto.

Preliminary observations suggest it is 10 per cent larger than
Quaoar, a 800-mile diameter object found in 2002.

Professor Mike Brown, an astronomer from the California
Institute of Technology, said: "Right now, it looks like it
could be bigger than Quaoar, which would put it bigger than
anything since Pluto."

The object was found on Monday by Prof Brown and his colleagues,
Dr Chad Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and Dr
David Rabinowitz, of Yale University in Connecticut, using the
48in Samuel Oschin telescope at the Palomar Observatory, near
San Diego in California.

The telescope has a 150-megapixel camera, which the astronomers
used to take three images of the same patch of sky at 90-minute

They compared the trio of images to reveal the presence of a
distant object in orbit, since it changed position from picture
to picture and clearly stood out against the static backdrop of
distant stars.

Prof Brown said: "We simply look for things that move. Even
things that are four billion miles away move. They move very
little - they inch across our screen - but itís enough to know
thereís something out there."

The object lies at the outer fringes of the Kuiper Belt, a swarm
of frozen rock and ice beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Pluto is the largest known object in the Kuiper Belt, although
it is traditionally considered a planet - the ninth discovered
in the solar system. The new-found frozen world is the 15th
object larger than 300 miles in diameter found in the region.

Preliminary measurements suggest the object follows an
elliptical orbit that takes it as close as 2.7 billion miles to
the sun and as far out as 4.7 billion miles. It takes an
estimated 252 years for the object to complete one orbit of the

Pluto was discovered 74 years ago on Wednesday, by Clyde
Tombaugh, an American astronomer, from the examination of a
series of pictures taken a month previously at Lowell
Observatory in Arizona.

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