The Milky Way just officially welcomed a new dwarf planet into the fold.
Called 2015 RR245 (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) the planet was discovered in the icy worlds that lie beyond Neptune using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope located in Maunakea, Hawaii. It’s roughly 700 kilometres in size and has one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet, taking a whopping 700 years to orbit the Sun a single time.
While the discovery of a dwarf planet might not seem like much, don’t be fooled. These tiny planets are actually very rare in our solar system because when the larger ones formed (like Mars, Jupiter or Neptune), the tinier ones were either destroyed or hurled from the Milky Way.
Nobody said the universe was nice, folks.
Additionally, RR245 might hold clues to the origins of our solar system.
“The icy worlds beyond Neptune trace how the giant planets formed and then moved out from the Sun,” University of Victoria postdoctoral fellow Michele Bannister said. “They let us piece together the history of our Solar System.”
For now, astronomers will work to get an even better look at the planet. Bannister says RR245 could be “small and shiny” or “large and dull” so more research will be needed before we can truly understand what lies on its surface.