Astronomers have discovered an object that is about to approach the Sun. Its orbit is 600,000 years old.
Scientists recently identified the 2014 UN271 object by analyzing Dark Energy Survey data from 2014 to 2018. Recall that the Dark Energy Survey is an astronomical survey in the visible and near-infrared regions of the spectrum, which aims to study the dynamics of the expansion of the Universe and the growth of its large-scale structure.
A preliminary assessment of the object showed that its width is from 100 to 370 km. Scientists suggest that this is an analog of a dwarf planet or a comet.
By itself, 2014 UN271 is larger than the huge comet Sarabat C / 1729 P1 and one of the largest Oort Cloud objects ever discovered. “It looks like a dwarf planet!” said Sam Dean, a civilian astronomer, in a post on the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML) forum.
The researchers were also interested in the object’s orbit. Apparently, 2014 UN271 has been traveling between the inner Solar system and the Oort cloud for 612,190 years.
The Oort Cloud is a hypothetical spherical region of the Solar System that is the source of long-period comets. Instrumentally, the existence of the Oort cloud is not confirmed, but many indirect facts point to its existence.
Currently, UN271 2014 is approximately 22 astronomical units (au) from the Sun (for reference, the Earth is at a distance of 1 au from the star). Shortly, namely in 2031, the object will pass within 10.9 au of the Sun, almost reaching the orbit of Saturn.