The recently proposed definition of a "planet" could change the way we view our solar system, especially since it could lead to considering at least a hundred celestial objects as planets. While experts debate about the proper definition for planets however, astronomers and civilians keep discovering more dwarf planets in our solar system.
Now experts say that a far-flung celestial body first sighted in 2014 has been observed to exhibit characteristics of a dwarf planet. The researchers have recommended that UZ224 - or DeeDee for Distant Dwarf - be considered as a dwarf planet.
As mentioned above, DeeDee was first spotted in 2014 but the researchers were unable to gather relevant information based solely on the initial sighting from the Blanco optical telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The most they were able to figure out are the following information:
• DeeDee's orbit: an elliptical path that takes 1,100 Earth years to complete
• It is about 92 astronomical units from the sun
• It can come as close at 38 AU and go as far as 180 AU
• It is the second most distant trans-Neptunian object with an orbit
While the information above are important, these still cannot serve as evidence that DeeDee's characteristics truly fall under the dwarf planet criteria. After all, the gathered information could not determine DeeDee's size and shape, both of which are determining factors.
In order to prove that their assumption about DeeDee being a dwarf planet is correct, the researchers headed over to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array radio telescope, also in Chile, where they were able to gather more information to confirm their theory.
What the ALMA telescope did was to pick up DeeDee's heat signature - a measure that is directly proportional to the celestial object's size - and the team collected more data from there.
Astronomer David Gerdes from the University of Michigan and his team were able to identify DeeDee's temperature, brightness, size, and shape based on the ALMA observations over the past years.
"We calculated that this object would be incredibly cold, only about 30 degrees Kelvin, just a little above absolute zero," Gerdes said.
The team also revealed that DeeDee only reflected 13 percent of the sun's light, which isn't really much considering how far away it is. As for the more significant characteristics, the ALMA telescope reveals that DeeDee is just about 365 kilometers (227 miles) in diameter - just two-thirds of dwarf planet Ceres - but that it has enough mass to be spherical.
Take a look at the size comparison below.
At present, however, DeeDee is not yet officially a designated as a dwarf planet, but with the findings published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, it won't be long until the title is officially given.