The outer solar system has a new dwarf planet! Orbiting between 12 and 70 billion kilometers, 2012 VP113 is joining Sedna in the Oort Cloud.

The new dwarf planet is the moving white dot in the lower right of the image.

The dwarf planet takes 40,000 years to cover its orbit. At 12 to 70 billion kilometers, that's 80 to 468 AU, 80 to 468 times the Earth-Sun distance. This is far enough out to be beyond Kupier Belt Objects, instead joining the ranks of iceballs and comets that occupy the Oort Cloud. To poke around at just how far out this is, the JPL Near Earth Objects program has an app to view the orbits of Sedna and VP113 simultaneously.


VP will be observed longer to determine its orbit more fully before it earns a permanent name.

For more on the dwarf planet, check out the technical summary on Nature, see the Bad Astronomer for a more giddy description, read researcher Scott Sheppard's summary on the discovery, or browse the NASA press release.


Image credit: Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science