139 minor planets discovered
Astronomers have found 139 new “minor planets” in the far reaches of our solar system just beyond Neptune’s orbit, which could potentially boost scientists’ continued searches for the putative Planet Nine.
A new study published in The Astrophysical Journal revealed how data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) helped researchers to detect a new cluster of Trans-Neptune objects, from which 139 out of 316 minor planets had not been documented before.
The so-called “trans-Neptunian Objects” (TNOs), the most famous of which is Pluto, orbit celestial bodies in the Kuiper belt, a region in our Solar System that stretches beyond our system’s eight major planets. Extending outward by some 50 astronomical units — that’s 50 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun — the Kuiper belt is far larger than the asteroid belt.
The discoveries could uncover new ways to search for the mysterious Planet Nine, a hypothetical ninth planet in our Solar System that some suspect to be causing strange gravitational effects on a cluster of trans-Neptunian objects beyond Neptune’s orbit.
While on Earth we are concerned about hurricanes, the strength of these storms is nowhere near what you would find on Neptune. At its highest altitudes, according to NASA, winds blow at more than 1,770 kilometers per hour.