Astronomers have discovered 139 dwarf planets beyond the orbit of Neptune. All of them are located on the outskirts of the solar system, according to a study by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Scientists already know dozens of dwarf planets beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, and the features of their orbits indicate the existence of the ninth planet (planet X) on the outskirts of the solar system, which scientists have still not been able to detect.
In a new study, astronomers analyzed images taken with a 440-megapixel DECam camera for the first four years of operation. The tool was originally created to search for traces of dark matter, but the researchers decided to use it to determine the location of planet X.
“Our DECam camera was not created to search for planets, but to study dark energy. Nevertheless, due to its enormous sensitivity and depth of coverage, it is a very convenient tool for searching for objects beyond the orbit of Neptune”.
Gary Bernstein, lead author of the study
The analysis of the images allowed scientists to compile a catalog of 22 million possible candidates for the role of small celestial bodies and planets within the solar system. A more detailed study showed that 139 of them are indeed dwarf planets, and not asteroids or satellites.
Their study will help scientists clarify the position of a potentially existing ninth planet and increase the likelihood of its discovery, the authors of the study said.