Introducing Our Solar System’s Newest Dwarf Planet, ‘DeeDee
According to new data, DeeDee is about two-thirds the size of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest member of our asteroid belt, and has enough mass to be spherical. David Gerdes, an expert from the University of MI, said in an earlier statement that observing and studying objects that are far and dim poses a great challenge for astronomers.
“This object is now the second-most distant known trans-Neptunian object with reported orbital elements, surpassed in distance only by the dwarf planet Eris”, the researchers wrote. Now, with the help of new data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), scientists have come to know more about the true identity of the hitherto mysterious object. Luckily, ALMA has unique capabilities to bring distant worlds a little bit closer to the human eye.
One astronomical unit is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, or about 150 million kilometers, and DeeDee is a whopping 92 AUs.
Although there are now only eight designated planets in our solar system, there are many more dwarf planets than you may realize.
The first is DeeDee’s size. The object loops around the sun on a highly elliptical path that takes more than 1,100 Earth years to complete; it’s now about 92 astronomical units (AU) from the sun but comes as close as 38 AU and gets as far away as 180 AU.
The discovery of DeeDee heralds more revelations to come, both bright and dark, with all revealing new clues about our mysterious solar system and universe.
They found it using the Victor Blanco 4-m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile as part of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). They’ve named it DeeDee, for Distant Dwarf, and although it was first noticed in late 2016, little information about its physical structure was known back then. Because of this, DeeDee is only 30 degrees Kelvin, slightly above absolute zero, which translates to a really freaking cold -406 degrees Fahrenheit.
This allowed astronomers to determine that it reflects only about 13 percent of the sunlight that hits it. That means DeeDee is about as dark as the dirt on a baseball infield, astronomers said.
ALMA image of the faint millimeter-wavelength “glow” from the planetary body 2014 UZ224, more informally known as DeeDee. Follow-up observations from ALMA were able to confirm its unusual size and darkness readily. ALMA picked up the faraway object’s heat signature, which is directly proportional to its size. According to the scientists, we can use the orbits and physical properties of bodies like DeeDee (which are considered to be leftovers from the creation of the solar system) to understand the formation of planets like ours.
“This discovery is exciting because it shows that it is possible to detect very distant, slowly moving objects in our own Solar System”.
Perhaps now these same technologies could even be used to find the hypothesised Planet Nine that is predicted to orbit far beyond DeeDee and Eris.