ALMA Investigates 'DeeDee,' a Distant, Dim Member of Our Solar System

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ALMA Investigates 'DeeDee,' a Distant, Dim Member of Our Solar System

Postby bystander » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:01 pm

ALMA Investigates 'DeeDee,' a Distant, Dim Member of Our Solar System
ALMA | NRAO | ESO | NAOJ | 2017 Apr 12

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have revealed extraordinary details about a recently discovered far-flung member of our solar system, the planetary body 2014 UZ224, more informally known as DeeDee.

At about three times the current distance of Pluto from the Sun, DeeDee is the second most distant known trans-Neptunian object (TNO) with a confirmed orbit, surpassed only by the dwarf planet Eris. Astronomers estimate that there are tens-of-thousands of these icy bodies in the outer solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The new ALMA data reveal, for the first time, that DeeDee is roughly 635 kilometers across, or about two-thirds the diameter of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest member of our asteroid belt. At this size, DeeDee should have enough mass to be spherical, the criterion necessary for astronomers to consider it a dwarf planet, though it has yet to receive that official designation. ...

Currently, DeeDee is about 92 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. An astronomical unit is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun or about 150 million kilometers. At this tremendous distance, it takes DeeDee more than 1,100 years to complete one orbit. Light from DeeDee takes nearly 13 hours to reach Earth. ...

Objects like DeeDee are cosmic leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Their orbits and physical properties reveal important details about the formation of planets, including Earth. ...

Discovery and Physical Characterization of a Large Scattered Disk Object at 92 AU - David Gerdes et al
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