A New Planet has been Discovered
August 1st 2005
This image shows
the path of the planet
Click the image to enlarge
A new planet has
been spotted. Astronomers in California have officially identified
2003UB313 as the 10th planet orbiting our sun. They are calling the
new planet Xena.
"This is the
first object to be confirmed to be larger than Pluto in the outer
solar system," according to Michael Brown. The announcement came
late Saturday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Since January, Brown, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in
Mauna Kea Hawaii and David Rabinowitz of Yale University made
comparisons of the planets positions and determined Xena was indeed
The planet is
only a quarter the size of Earth and one and a half times the size
of Pluto. It is estimated that the orbit takes 560 years. The
planet is 97 times as distant from the sun as Earth is.
Xena is so far
away it took over a year to determine it was a planet. Presently
the planet is near itís furthest point from the sun, about 9 billion
miles, three times as far as Pluto is. In about 280 years it will
be as far from the sun as Neptune.
The planet was
discovered by California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
astronomer Brown at the Palomar observatory near San Diego
California. The planet was first photographed October 31st
2003 with the 48 inch Samuel Oschin telescope at Palomar. The
telescope is normally used to track asteroids that might collide
with the Earth.
of the new planet
The planet was
hard to identify because its orbit is tilted at a 45 degree angle
from the standard solar orbital plane. Xena may be part of the
Kuiper Belt, a giant band of icy objects beyond Neptune. These icy
objects are believed to be remnants of the material that formed the
"I've been a
strong proponent of saying Pluto is not a planet, (but) I've come to
the conclusion that people love Pluto . . . and I should just let it
go," Brown told reporters. "But if (Xena) is bigger and farther, you
better call it a
planet. I would say get out your pens and start
rewriting the textbooks today."
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