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A Sedna-like Body With a Perihelion of 80 Astronomical Units


A Sedna-like Body With a Perihelion of 80 Astronomical Units

Chadwick A Trujillo et al. Nature.


The observable Solar System can be divided into three distinct regions: the rocky terrestrial planets including the asteroids at 0.39 to 4.2 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun (where 1 AU is the mean distance between Earth and the Sun), the gas giant planets at 5 to 30 AU from the Sun, and the icy Kuiper belt objects at 30 to 50 AU from the Sun. The 1,000-kilometre-diameter dwarf planet Sedna was discovered ten years ago and was unique in that its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is 76 AU, far greater than that of any other Solar System body. Formation models indicate that Sedna could be a link between the Kuiper belt objects and the hypothesized outer Oort cloud at around 10,000 AU from the Sun. Here we report the presence of a second Sedna-like object, 2012 VP113, whose perihelion is 80 AU. The detection of 2012 VP113 confirms that Sedna is not an isolated object; instead, both bodies may be members of the inner Oort cloud, whose objects could outnumber all other dynamically stable populations in the Solar System.

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