Conceptual art of the newly discovered KBO. Image: Ko Arimatsu
Scientists have discovered a tiny object in the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune, a world on the kilometer scale that could shed light on how planets formed in the early days of the solar system.
The discovery – this is the first time in this part of the solar system a world has been discovered that is less than ten kilometers – seems to require high-resolution telescopes like the 10-meter Keck Observatory in Hawaii , However, it was discovered by two modest "amateur telescopes", as published on Monday Nature Astronomy
. "This is a real win for small projects," writes lead author Ko Arimatsu, an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in a statement: Arimatsu heads the Organized Autotelescopes for Serendipitous Event Survey (OASES) project, which is the new object of the Kuiper Belt (KBO).
Budget for large international projects, "he added. We did not even have enough money to build a second dome to protect our second telescope. Nevertheless, we managed to make a discovery that is impossible for the big projects. "
Due to the small size and remote location of the object, scientists can learn more about how planets formed in the early solar system, and research suggests that large planets are created after a tipping point has been reached that is an" uncontrolled Growth phase "unleashes miles of worlds like these have never been integrated into larger worlds and therefore offer a rare view of the pristine building blocks of planets.
Read more: Scientists discovered a new dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system
Arimatsu's team discovered the object using the light from distant stars to capture the silhouette of small worlds in the Kuiper Belt, also known as the Edgeworth Kuiper Belt, 30 times farther from the Sun than the Earth and contains thousands of iced objects, including Pluto.
The Astrono They used 1
The telescopes monitored 2,000 stars over a period of 60 hours. Arimatsu and his colleagues studied observations for signs of occlusion, the term for light dips in stellar brightness caused by objects passing by stars.
So they discovered this small world with a radius of 1.3 kilometers, which has not yet been named. Pluto looks like a true giant compared to a diameter of around 2400 kilometers.
"Large survey surveys, as well as OASES and other small projects by amateur astronomers and civic scientists, show the nature of small outer solar system objects that are hidden in the dark," the team wrote in the newspaper.
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