Scientists confirmed that 2007 OR10 or the third largest dwarf planet, situated just at the edge of the Solar System, is also orbited by a moon. Researchers managed to detect and confirm the existence of this new space body with help from 3 specifically trained telescopes.
The Third Largest Dwarf Planet has a Moon, which Confirms a Trend
2007 OR10 is currently the third largest known dwarf planet. Situated at the edges of our Solar System, this cosmic body is some 955 miles wide. The fact that it also comes with a moon helped confirm a theory.
Researchers noted that a satellite orbits most every large dwarf planet located in our cosmic neighborhood and greater than 600 miles. Which means that such space bodies are more common than initially believed.
This latest discovery became possible thanks to help from 3 NASA space telescopes. A study on the matter was released in The Astrophysical Journal. Csaba Kiss stated that:
“The initial investigator missed the moon in the Hubble images because it is very faint.”
Kiss is an astronomer part of the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary, and the lead of this new study. Scientists first started theorizing the existence of a moon around 2007 OR10 after studying images captured by the Kepler Space Telescope. These showed that the third largest dwarf was rotating somewhat slower than usual.
2007 OR10, located in the Kuiper Belt region, should have had an orbit of no more than 24 hours. Instead, this space body took 45 hours to rotate. Which indicated that a moon was slowing down its cycle by tugging on it.
Combined images from Kepler, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Herschel Space Observatory helped attest the moon’s existence. Data gathered from the latter also helped estimate its size.
Astronomers approximate 2017 OR10’s moon as having a diameter in between 150 miles to 250 miles. Still, specialists have more research ahead of them as they will try to determine its orbit. Only then will they be able to fully explain the dwarf planet’s slower rotation.
However, the moon’s presence is another proof of their abundance in the solar system. As most large dwarfs have moons, this could also be a clue as to the way they formed. Some scientists suggest that they may be the result of space collisions.
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