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Recently Discovered Object Could Be A Moon Of Undiscovered Super-Earth At The Edge Of Our Solar System

A recently-discovered small Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) with an eccentric orbit may actually be the moon of a larger, as yet undiscovered outer solar system planet, according to a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal. KBO 2015 BP519, a small rocky object, moves in a pattern that suggests it may be orbiting a larger body.

Located far beyond Neptune and Pluto, it orbits at a tilt of 54 degrees from the plane of Earth’s orbit. In comparison, Pluto’s orbit is titled 17 degrees from Earth’s orbital plane, and Mercury’s orbit is titled seven degrees from it. Researchers found the object, which they describe as “the most extreme Trans-Neptunian Object found to date,” using data from a completely different project, the Dark Energy Survey, which is observing a region far from Earth’s orbital plane in a study of the acceleration of the universe’s expansion.

According to the researchers’ theory, 2015 BP519 may be orbiting a giant planet ten times as massive as the Earth. This parent planet would be responsible for the smaller object’s unusual orbit. They estimate the planet is located approximately 149 billion kilometers from the Sun or 75 times the distance between the Sun and Pluto.

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