Our New 10th Planet

August 11, 2005

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Provided and copyright by: John Chumack, Miami Valley Astronomical Society
Summary authors & editors: John Chumack

The DIRAS Observatory Team (New Mexico) has captured the new 10th planet or Kuiper Belt Object (2003 UB313), which was found well beyond the orbit of Pluto. This work was led by Leibrecht Venter, Arnie Rosner and John Chumack. Because this object is so faint, it required a very long exposure using a sensitive Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) to detect. A CCD stores packets of information as electric charges. We measured a magnitude for this object of ~18.9. We're now simply waiting on a final decision from the International Astronomy Union on its name. While it has been claimed to be larger than Pluto and located at twice its distance from the Sun, this is still being determined.

The image pair above was taken from the skies above New Mexico and shows movement of the new planet from one night to the next against the background star field -- it's in the center of both photos, between the vertical reference lines (click on photo for a larger view). We were able to see it with an 8 minute exposure on July 31 and a 10 minute exposure on August 1.

Photo details: Using a .30 meter FL. 11.9 Takahashi Dall-Kirkham Scope & Software, Bisque ParaMount & FLI CCD, UBVRI.

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