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New Planet In Our Solar System

Here's the deal: There's something out there, and it could be a planet in our solar system. In fact, it could be a Super-Earth.

In 2014, an object was observed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in northern Chile. It was observed again in May of this year.

It's in the vicinity of the Alpha Centauri system, a three-star cluster that is the closest star system to our own at just over 4 light years away.

A group of astronomers including Rene Liseau of the Department  of  Earth  and  Space  Sciences,  Chalmers  University  of  Technology,  Onsala  Space  Observatory in Onsala, Sweden, published a paper based on these observations and they are of the opinion that the object is not something part of the Alpha Centauri system, but one of three potential things in our solar system.

Those three things: A TNO, or Trans-Neptunian Object (like Pluto), which is any body that orbits the sun beyond Neptune; a Super-Earth, meaning bigger than Earth but smaller than the gas giants like Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune or Uranus; or a very cool brown dwarf, which is what some scientists refer to as a failed star - bigger than Jupiter, but not big enough to produce the fusion necessary to become a star.

If this object is a TNO, it would be smaller than Earth, like Pluto and the paper suggests it would be around 100 Astronomical Units away from the sun (A single AU is 93 million miles or the distance from the Earth to the sun). It's a Super-Earth, then it would be about 300 AUs away. If it's a brown dwarf, it would be 20,000 AUs away. For reference, Pluto is only 39.5 AUs away. So this would be at least more than twice as far away as Pluto.

No matter what it is, the paper concludes it's in our solar system - in fact the most distant object in the solar system - but cautions that more observations are necessary so that we can figure out just what, where and how big this thing is.


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