Andrew McDonald
The Space Reporter
March 27, 2014

Astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet in the distant reaches of our solar system. The discovery of 2012 VP113 was made by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory.

According to a Carnegie press release, the orbit of 2012 VP113 brings the object no closer than 80 AU to the Sun. An AU is equivalent to Earth’s distance from the Sun, approximately 93 million miles. The rocky inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, and the asteroid belt of our solar system orbit between 0.39 and 4.2 AU from the Sun. The four gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, orbit between 5 and 30 AU. The cold worlds of the Kuiper Belt, such as dwarf planet Pluto, orbit between 30 and 50 AU.

Prior to the discovery of 2012 VP113, the only known dwarf planet beyond the Kuiper Belt was Sedna, which was discovered in 2003 and orbits the Sun at 76 AU. Sedna and 2012 VP113 probably belong to the inner Oort cloud, a poorly understood region of the outer solar system and the probable origin of many comets.

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