With the help of a telescope in Hawaii, a team of international astronomers has spotted a new distant dwarf planet situated in the disk of icy worlds beyond Neptune.

Named as 2015 RR245, the dwarf planet is 700 kilometers (435 miles) in diameter — approximately one-and-a-half times the size of Canada's Vancouver Island — and possesses one of the biggest orbits for a dwarf planet, researchers say.

Dwarf planet 2015 RR245 was designated by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center and was detected with the help of the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope in Maunakea. The mission is part of the ongoing OSSOS or Outer Solar System Origins Survey.

More Details About Dwarf Planet 2015 RR245

JJ Kavelaars, an astronomer from the National Research Council of Canada, first spotted dwarf planet 2015 RR245 in February 2016.

Through the OSSOS project's powerful computers, Kavelaars saw the incredibly bright object moving at a slow rate. Its speed meant that the dwarf planet was twice as far from Earth to Neptune, as well as 120 times further than the sun than our own planet.

Michele Bannister, a postdoc fellow with OSSOS and an expert from University of Victoria, says the exact size of RR245 is relatively unknown because its surface properties have yet to be measured.

"It's either small and shiny, or large and dull," says Bannister.

Additionally, RR245 has been revolving around the sun on a highly elliptical orbit for the last 100 million years, researchers say.

After centuries of being 12 billion kilometers from the sun, RR245 is moving toward its closest approach at 5 billion kilometers. The dwarf planet will reach this distance by 2096.

RR245 is the largest discovery and the single dwarf planet found by the OSSOS team, which has detected more than 500 trans-Neptunian objects.

Why The Findings Are Important

The majority of dwarf planets similar to RR245 have been destroyed or thrown out from the solar system when giant planets settled into their current positions, scientists say.

RR245 is one of the lucky few dwarf planets that survived until this day, along with Eris and Pluto. All three dwarf planets now circle the sun along with populations of much smaller trans-Neptunian worlds, most of which are unseen.

Brett Gladman, chair of the planetary astronomy at University of British Columbia, says finding dwarf planet RR245 could shed light on the early stages of planetary formation.

Gladman says that since most of the trans-Neptunian planets are incredibly faint and small, it is "exciting" to find a bright one that appears much easier to investigate and is located in an interesting orbit.

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