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 http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id5822004 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 intervals. 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 sun. 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.
[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |
UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp