Apr 13, 2017 01:17 PM EDT
University Of Michigan Expert Leads Discovery Of Long-Lost Planetary Body [Video]
The 2014 UZ224, better known as DeeDee, has been discovered by astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). It is a planetary body sitting at the edge of the solar system. One expert from the University of Michigan led the remarkable project.
According to Science Daily, the experts say that DeeDee is the, in fact, the second farthest known trans-Neptunian object (TNO) with a legitimate orbit. It is about three times the current distance of Pluto from the Sun. The most distant celestial body in the solar system (so far) is the dwarf planet Eris.
Researchers believe that there are still "tens-of-thousands" planetary bodies aside from DeeDee and Eris. Most likely, they are icy objects lurking in the outer solar system. Indeed, the area beyond the orbit of Neptune holds a lot of surprises for mankind to discover in the near future.
In particular, per Space, 2014 UZ224 is around 92 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun as of now. To better illustrate, AU is the calculated average distance from Earth to its star. Basically, one AU is equivalent to 150 million kilometers. With its "tremendous" distance from the Sun, 2014 UZ224 takes over 1,100 years to complete one orbit.
Moreover, the light from DeeDee takes 13 hours to reach Earth. David Gerdes, an expert from the University of Michigan, said in an earlier statement that observing and studying objects that are far and dim poses a great challenge for astronomers. Luckily, ALMA has unique capabilities to bring distant worlds a little bit closer to the human eye.
Gerdes and his team first announced the remarkable discovery of 2014 UZ224 in the fall of 2016. Another weapon they used was the 4-meter Blanco telescope situated at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The discovery was a bit accidental as the main project is about the Dark Energy Survey, a study that aims to answer the mysteries of the expanding universe.
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