There are plenty of weird objects in our solar system, but the newly discovered trans-Neptunian object (TNO) Niku might be one of the weirdest.
It’s not the composition of Niku that makes it strange. It seems to be a chunk of ice about 124 miles (200 km) in diameter, placing it at the lower threshhold of objects that might be considered dwarf planets. There are plenty of objects its size and its composition out in the Kuiper Belt and beyond.
No, the really weird thing about Niku is that it’s far, far, far above the ecliptic — the sort of “plane” of the solar system on which the planets lie, with the Earth considered at the 0 degree point on the ecliptic. So how far is Niku above it? 110 degrees. In other words, it’s so far above it that it has entered a retrograde orbit.