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A New Planet has been Discovered

August 1st 2005

2003UB313 New Planet Xena path used to determine it was a planet at Caltech

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 a planet.

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. 

Artists rendering of the new planet Xena

Artists rendering
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 solar system.   

"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."


If you have a comment about this article please email me.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer



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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:45 PM