The recent discovery of a pink dwarf planet has the scientific community and the internet abuzz today, with added speculation that the solar system may contain much more than we’ve thought for years.
The dwarf planet, which is officially called 2012 VP113, was jokingly dubbed ‘Biden,’ for the VP in the official name. News of the planet’s discovery was announced when its findings were published in the scientific journal Nature yesterday. The pink planet, whose light color made it difficult to see until recently, was discovered in 2012 by Chadwick Trujillo of Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, together with the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
A new planet has not been discovered since 2003, when fellow dwarf planet Sedna was found. According to Forbes, Sheppard said, “People wondered if Sedna was unique, and 10 years on, we have at last found another object that shows it is not. There is probably a large population of objects out there.”
Measuring a mere 279 miles in diameter, the planet is half the size of Sedna and small enough to fit inside the state of Utah and orbits approximately 7.5 billion miles from the sun. Scientists have searched for years for evidence of another planet like Sedna to prove that its existence wasn’t just a fluke.
According to USATODAY, with two dwarf planet orbits to study, Sheppard and Trujillo added into their research the orbits of 10 additional icy objects near Pluto. “Similarities in the 12 objects’ paths around the sun strongly suggest that all 12 are under the spell of a hulking, far-distant planet,” said Sheppard.
Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado has previously scoffed at past speculation about a large rogue planet, but the new evidence is hard to deny. “I’ve never been seduced by any of those arguments, except this one. … If that data’s right, I can’t think of any other way to explain it.”
The “Super Earth” is believed to be up to 10 times the size of Earth due to its possible influence over the objects in the area and possibly 200 to 1,000 times as far from the sun as Earth and was possibly ejected from its original location closer to the existing planets in the solar system.
What do you think about the possibility of a super planet out there beyond Pluto? While it’s still mostly speculation, does the thought of a giant Earth excite you or scare you?