beyond neptune

Do you know?
  1. A day on Venus is longer than a year.
  2. 33 light years away there is an exoplanet completely covered in burning ice.
  3. About 275 million new stars are born everyday.
  4. According to astronauts, space smells like seared steak, hot metal, and welding fumes.
  5. Each year the moon moves 3.8 cm further from the Earth.
  6. Earth has over 8,000 pieces of space junk orbiting around it.
  7. Earth’s rotation is slowing at a rate of about 17 milliseconds a century.
  8. Far beyond Neptune, there may be an object the size of Earth orbiting the sun.
  9. If you could compress the Earth down to the size of a marble, it would collapse on itself and become a black hole.
  10. One spoonful of matter from a neutron star would weigh about a billion tons.
  11. There’s a gas cloud in the constellation of Aquila that contains enough alcohol to make 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

Carl Sagan suggested to NASA the idea to turn the Voyager 1 camera back towards Earth, when the spacecraft went beyond Neptune for one last look at what he called « the Pale Blue Dot »

“And whilst I suppose it has a very limited scientific value, for me, this tiny point of light is the most powerful and profound demonstration of perhaps the most human of qualities : our unique ability to reflect on the universe’s existence and our place within it.” — Prof. Brian Cox


Some miscellaneous cosplays throughout the weekend I absolutely loved~

I didn’t take many pictures this year mainly due to the fact I couldn’t even see if the pictures were coming out in focus or not, but I’m glad these ones at least turned out okay~

Please let me know if you want me to tag you in this if you see your cosplay!

Tulio - fangasmicfandoms

Situ - ghostlycorvid

Baymax’s creator - creme13rulee


Though not visible to the naked eye or even with binoculars, the green-tailed Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (HMP) did not escape the gaze of the world-renowned Arecibo Observatory. Scientists from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) at Arecibo Observatory have been studying the comet with radar to better understand its solid nucleus and the dusty coma that surrounds it.

“Comets are remnants of the planet forming process and are part of a group of objects made of water ice and rocky material that formed beyond Neptune,” noted Dr. Ellen Howell, scientist at LPL and the leader of the observing campaign at Arecibo. “Studying these objects gives us an idea of how the outer reaches of our solar system formed and evolved over time.”

Studying the comet with radar not only very precisely determines its orbit, allowing scientists to better predict its location in the future, but also gives a glimpse of the typically unseen part, the comet’s nucleus, which is usually hidden behind the cloud of gas and dust that makes up the its coma and tail.

“The Arecibo Observatory planetary radar system can pierce through the comet’s coma and allows us to study the surface properties, size, shape, rotation, and geology of the comet nucleus,” said Dr. Patrick Taylor, USRA scientist and Group Lead for Planetary Radar at Arecibo. “We gain roughly the same amount of knowledge from a radar observation as a spacecraft flyby of the same object, but at considerably less cost.”

In fact, the new radar observations have revealed Comet 45P/HMP to be somewhat larger than previously estimated. The radar images suggest a size of about 1.3 km (0.8 mi) and that it rotates about once every 7.6 hours. “We see complex structures and bright regions on the comet and have been able to investigate the coma with radar,” indicated Cassandra Lejoly, graduate student at the University of Arizona.

This comet is only the seventh imaged using radar because comets rarely come close enough to the Earth to get such detailed radar images. In fact, though 45P/HMP has an orbital period of about 5.3 years, it rarely passes close to Earth, as it is doing now. Comet 45P is one of a group of comets called Jupiter family comets (JFCs), whose orbits are controlled by Jupiter’s gravity and typically orbit the Sun about every 6 years.

Comet 45P/HMP, which is passing by Earth at a speed of about 23 km/s (relative to Earth) and a close approach of about 32 Earth-Moon distances, will be observed widely at different wavelengths to characterize the gas and dust emanating from the nucleus that forms the coma. As comets orbit the Sun, the ices sublime from solids to gases and escape the nucleus. The nucleus gradually shrinks and will disappear completely within in less than a million years.

Radar observations at Arecibo of Comet 45P/HMP began on February 9, 2017, and will continue through February 17, 2017.

Scientists have discovered a mysterious object beyond Neptune

There’s a strange object floating around the outer edge of our solar system, and it’s breaking all kinds of rules. Scientists have nicknamed it Niku, after the Chinese adjective for rebellious. Niku isa trans-Neptunian object, which are small rocky bodies that orbit out beyond Neptune. This TNO doesn’t act like the thousands of others in our solar system though.

For starters, Niku is orbiting the sun on a different plane than the planets and other TNOs. Its path is tilted about 110 degrees from the disc that the planets orbit on. It’s also got a a retrograde orbit.

follow @the-future-now

The astronomer whose work helped kick Pluto out of the pantheon of planets says he has good reason to believe there’s an undiscovered planet bigger than Earth lurking in the distant reaches of our solar system.

That’s quite a claim, because Mike Brown of Caltech is no stranger to this part of our cosmic neighborhood. After all, he discovered Eris, an icy world more massive than Pluto that proved our old friend wasn’t special enough to be considered a full-fledged planet. He also introduced the world to Sedna, a first-of-its-kind dwarf planet that’s so far out there, its region of space was long thought to be an empty no man’s land.

Now Brown has teamed up with Caltech colleague Konstantin Batygin to do a new analysis of oddities in the orbits of small, icy bodies out beyond Neptune. In their report published Wednesday in The Astronomical Journal, the researchers say it looks like the orbits are all being affected by the presence of an unseen planet that’s about 10 times more massive than Earth (though still much smaller than Uranus or Neptune) — the size astronomers refer to as a super-Earth.

Scientists Find Hints Of A Giant, Hidden Planet In Our Solar System

Image: The imagined view from Planet Nine back toward the sun. Astronomers think the huge, distant planet is likely gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune.



In the race to discover a proposed ninth planet in our solar system, Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University have observed several never-before-seen objects at extreme distances from the Sun in our solar system. Sheppard and Trujillo have now submitted their latest discoveries to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center for official designations. A paper about the discoveries has also been accepted to The Astronomical Journal.

The more objects that are found at extreme distances, the better the chance of constraining the location of the ninth planet that Sheppard and Trujillo first predicted to exist far beyond Pluto (itself no longer classified as a planet) in 2014. The placement and orbits of small, so-called extreme trans-Neptunian objects, can help narrow down the size and distance from the Sun of the predicted ninth planet, because that planet’s gravity influences the movements of the smaller objects that are far beyond Neptune. The objects are called trans-Neptunian because their orbits around the Sun are greater than Neptune’s.

In 2014, Sheppard and Trujillo announced the discovery of 2012 VP113 (nicknamed “Biden”), which has the most-distant known orbit in our solar system. At this time, Sheppard and Trujillo also noticed that the handful of known extreme trans-Neptunian objects all cluster with similar orbital angles. This lead them to predict that there is a planet at more than 200 times our distance from the Sun. Its mass, ranging in possibility from several Earths to a Neptune equivalent, is shepherding these smaller objects into similar types of orbits.

Some have called this Planet X or Planet 9. Further work since 2014 showed that this massive ninth planet likely exists by further constraining its possible properties. Analysis of “neighboring” small body orbits suggest that it is several times more massive than the Earth, possibly as much as 15 times more so, and at the closest point of its extremely stretched, oblong orbit it is at least 200 times farther away from the Sun than Earth. (This is over 5 times more distant than Pluto.)

“Objects found far beyond Neptune hold the key to unlocking our solar system’s origins and evolution,” Sheppard explained. “Though we believe there are thousands of these small objects, we haven’t found very many of them yet, because they are so far away. The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there. The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer solar system.”

Sheppard and Trujillo, along with David Tholen of the University of Hawaii, are conducting the largest, deepest survey for objects beyond Neptune and the Kuiper Belt and have covered nearly 10 percent of the sky to date using some of the largest and most advanced telescopes and cameras in the world, such as the Dark Energy Camera on the NOAO 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile and the Japanese Hyper Suprime Camera on the 8-meter Subaru telescope in Hawaii. As they find and confirm extremely distant objects, they analyze whether their discoveries fit into the larger theories about how interactions with a massive distant planet could have shaped the outer solar system.

“Right now we are dealing with very low-number statistics, so we don’t really understand what is happening in the outer solar system,” Sheppard said. “Greater numbers of extreme trans-Neptunian objects must be found to fully determine the structure of our outer solar system.”

According to Sheppard, “we are now in a similar situation as in the mid-19th century when Alexis Bouvard noticed Uranus’ orbital motion was peculiar, which eventually led to the discovery of Neptune.”

The new objects they have submitted to the Minor Planet Center for designation include 2014 SR349 [], which adds to the class of the rare extreme trans-Neptunian objects. It exhibits similar orbital characteristics to the previously known extreme bodies whose positions and movements led Sheppard and Trujillo to initially propose the influence of Planet X.

Another new extreme object they found, 2013 FT28 [], has some characteristics similar to the other extreme objects but also some differences. The orbit of an object is defined by six parameters. The clustering of several of these parameters is the main argument for a ninth planet to exist in the outer solar system. 2013 FT28 shows similar clustering in some of these parameters (its semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, and argument of perihelion angle, for angle enthusiasts out there) but one of these parameters, an angle called the longitude of perihelion, is different from that of the other extreme objects, which makes that particular clustering trend less strong.

Another discovery, 2014 FE72 [], is the first distant Oort Cloud object found with an orbit entirely beyond Neptune. It has an orbit that takes the object so far away from the Sun (some 3,000 times farther than Earth) that it is likely being influenced by forces of gravity from beyond our solar system such as other stars and the galactic tide. It is the first object observed at such a large distance.

TOP IMAGE….An illustration of the orbits of the new and previously known extremely distant Solar System objects. The clustering of most of their orbits indicates that they are likely be influenced by something massive and very distant, the proposed Planet X. Image is courtesy of Robin Dienel.

LOWER IMAGE….An artist’s conception of Planet X, courtesy of Robin Dienel.


New dwarf planet beyond Pluto hints at no Planet Nine

“But objects like 2015 RR245 remind us of something that it’s vital to keep in mind: right now, with our current technology, we’re still only finding the brightest, closest objects to Earth right now. This means that we have a bias at play, and that of all the elliptically-orbiting objects that are out there, we’re only seeing the ones that are currently near their perihelia: closest to the Sun.”

When most people think of the Kuiper belt, they think of a population of objects just beyond Neptune, with slightly larger, more elliptical and more inclined orbits. As new discoveries like the recent 2015 RR245 show, however, there are a great many additional objects in the scattered disk with different orbital parameters that are much harder to find. These objects are quite likely to exist in great numbers, and are very difficult to find with current technology. Our observational biases may have strong and profound implications for our Solar System, including for the potential existence or non-existence of the hypothetical Planet Nine. There’s a whole lot more we still need to find out before any firm conclusions are drawn.

Believers in the Nibiru cataclysm theory heard “ninth planet” and immediately took it as a sign that their dreams and/or nightmares are finally coming true. 

The problem is, even if Planet X really did exist, it has nothing to do with Planet 9. So, in the words of a great American wiseman, “Settle down, Beavis.”

Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown discovered Planet 9’s potential existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations, but they haven’t seen it directly. No one has. If it exists, it’s way out there beyond Neptune. But that “if it exists” is important, because it’s purely hypothetical at this point. Of course, that’s the perfect time for attention-starved sensationalists to get nuts and declare, “It will kill all of us! Sell everything you own and initiate The Purge!"Imagine looking through a telescope to the top of a mountain miles away – a place no one had ever seen – and spotting a vague, dark splotch. It moves just enough to give you a pretty good idea that it is 1) alive and 2) a primate. Then imagine the person next to you starts shrieking, "It’s a man! He’s got grenades! He’s coming to kill all of us! Just like he did the dinosaurs!” That’s essentially what this is.

Why You Should Ignore ‘Doomsday’ News Stories About Planet 9


We now know the actual size of pluto & its largest moons, charon, hydra & Nix.

NASA’s New Horizons mission has answered one of the most basic questions about Pluto - its size.

Mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter, somewhat larger than many prior estimates. This result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. “The size of Pluto has been debated since its discovery in 1930. We are excited to finally lay this question to rest,” said mission scientist Bill McKinnon. Pluto’s newly estimated size means that its density is slightly lower than previously thought, and the fraction of ice in its interior is slightly higher. Also, the lowest layer of Pluto’s atmosphere, called the troposphere, is shallower than previously believed.

Measuring Pluto’s size has been a decades-long challenge due to complicating factors from its atmosphere. Its largest moon Charon lacks a substantial atmosphere, and its diameter was easier to determine using ground-based telescopes. New Horizons observations of Charon confirm previous estimates of 751 miles (1208 km) kilometers) across

LORRI has also zoomed in on two of Pluto’s smaller moons, Nix and Hydra.

Nix and Hydra were discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. Now, the latest LORRI images show the two diminutive satellites not as pinpoints, but as moons seen well enough to measure their sizes. Nix is estimated to be about 20 miles (about 35 kilometers) across, while Hydra is roughly 30 miles (roughly 45 kilometers) across. These sizes lead mission scientists to conclude that their surfaces are quite bright, possibly due to the presence of ice.

What about Pluto’s two smallest moons, Kerberos and Styx? Smaller and fainter than Nix and Hydra, they are harder to measure. Mission scientists should be able to determine their sizes with observations New Horizons will make during the flyby and will transmit to Earth at a later date.

tiny break from pokemon as I consider who to draw next: tex, tucker, or sharkface

have a neptune

ahaha no i lied I wanted to draw TOP

but Neptune was based on TOP so…

wait who am I drawing again

i haven’t even watched RWBY season 2 yet haha ha OTL


Makemake’s MK2: scientists just discovered a new moon in our solar system

Scientists spotted a new moon orbiting around the distant dwarf planet Makemake. Makemake sits way out beyond Neptune in a region called the Kuiper Belt. Makemake itself is already hard to spot because it’s so small and so far away, but its moon, called MK 2, is even harder to spot. Here’s why.

Follow @the-future-now


Could There Be Planets Beyond Neptune?

Did you grow up thinking there were nine planets in the solar system? You might have been right all along! Today we discuss the possibility of distant worlds in our solar system.

New Horizons passing Pluto in Google Doodle!

Google Doodle for July 14 2015 features the New Horizons spacecraft flying by Pluto, as it will do in just a few hours! 

The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006. It’s closest approach to Pluto will be in July 14, and then it is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.



An international team of astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune. The new object is roughly 700 kilometers in size and has one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet. Designated 2015 RR245 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, as part of the ongoing Outer solar system Origins Survey (OSSOS).

“The icy worlds beyond Neptune trace how the giant planets formed and then moved out from the Sun. They let us piece together the history of our solar system. But almost all of these icy worlds are painfully small and faint: it’s really exciting to find one that’s large and bright enough that we can study it in detail,” said Dr. Michele Bannister of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, who is a postdoctoral fellow with the survey.

National Research Council of Canada’s Dr. JJ Kavelaars first sighted RR245 in February 2016 in the OSSOS images from September 2015. “There it was on the screen – this dot of light moving so slowly that it had to be at least twice as far as Neptune from the Sun,” said Bannister.

The team became even more excited when they realized that the object’s orbit takes it more than 120 times further from the Sun than Earth. The size of RR245 is not yet exactly known, as its surface properties need further measurement. “It’s either small and shiny, or large and dull,” said Bannister.

The vast majority of the dwarf planets like RR245 were destroyed or thrown from the solar system in the chaos that ensued as the giant planets moved out to their present positions: RR245 is one of the few dwarf planets that has survived to the present day — along with Pluto and Eris, the largest known dwarf planets. RR245 now circles the Sun among the remnant population of tens of thousands of much smaller trans-Neptunian worlds, most of which orbit unseen.

Worlds that journey far from the Sun have exotic geology with landscapes made of many different frozen materials, as the recent flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft showed.

After hundreds of years further than 12 billion km (80 astronomical units, AU) from the Sun, RR245 is travelling towards its closest approach at 5 billion km (34 AU), which it will reach around 2096. RR245 has been on its highly elliptical orbit for at least the last 100 million years.

As RR245 has only been observed for one of the seven hundred years it takes to orbit the Sun, where it came from and how its orbit will slowly evolve in the far future is still unknown; its precise orbit will be refined over the coming years, after which RR245 will be given a name. As discoverers, the OSSOS team can submit their preferred name for RR245 to the International Astronomical Union for consideration.

“OSSOS was designed to map the orbital structure of the outer solar system to decipher its history,” said Prof. Brett Gladman of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “While not designed to efficiently detect dwarf planets, we’re delighted to have found one on such an interesting orbit.”

RR245 is the largest discovery and the only dwarf planet found by OSSOS, which has discovered more than five hundred new trans-Neptunian objects. “OSSOS is only possible due to the exceptional observing capabilities of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. CFHT is located at one of the best optical observing locations on Earth, is equipped with an enormous wide-field imager, and can quickly adapt its observing each night to new discoveries we make. This facility is truly world leading,” said Gladman.

Previous surveys have mapped almost all the brighter dwarf planets. 2015 RR245 may be one of the last large worlds beyond Neptune to be found until larger telescopes, such as LSST, come online in the mid 2020s.

TOP IMAGE….Rendering of the orbit of RR245 (orange line). Objects as bright or brighter than RR245 are labeled. The Minor Planet Center describes the object as the 18th largest in the Kuiper Belt. Credit: Alex Parker OSSOS team

LOWER IMAGE….Discovery images of RR245. The images show RR245’s slow motion across the sky over three hours (.gif file). Credit OSSOS team.


That’s no comet; that’s Pluto! Comet-like tail and X-rays discovered at Solar System’s edge

“This is exactly what you’d expect if Pluto were acting like a comet! Objects far beyond Neptune are so cold that they’re covered in ices; New Horizons discovered a world rich in nitrogen, methane and water ice. But Pluto has a highly elliptical orbit, and its perihelion, or closest approach to the Sun, takes it even inside the orbit of Neptune, which it achieved only a few decades ago: in 1989. The closer Pluto is to the Sun, the more the ices on its surface vaporize, forming a hazy atmosphere. That atmosphere can then be gradually stripped away by the high-energy particles of the solar wind, similar to the process that strips Mars’ atmosphere away, only on a much slower, more distant scale.”

What, in our Solar System, has a long tail from boiled-off frozen ices? What simultaneously leaves an X-ray signature when the solar wind collides with those boiled-off atoms, kicking electrons out and causing X-ray emissions? If you guessed a comet, you’d be “traditionally” correct, beginning with Comet Hyukutake in 1996. But way out beyond any comets, Pluto does the exact same thing. Thanks to a combination of the New Horizons flyby and observations with the Chandra X-ray observatory, we’ve been able to measure, verify and learn some incredibly interesting physics about the largest object discovered to date out beyond Neptune. Perhaps most interestingly, it’s also the first time we’ve detected X-rays from beyond SATURN in our Solar System, and ushers in a new era in astronomy: Kuiper belt X-ray observing!

Come get the whole story over on Starts With A Bang today!


New Science Bulletin!

Tiny, faraway Pluto was first spied in 1930. This icy world is one of thousands of rocky bodies that make up the Kuiper Belt, a ring that circles our solar system beyond Neptune. Until recently, the most powerful telescopes on Earth and in space could only capture blurry impressions of Pluto and its moons. But in 2015, New Horizons became the first spacecraft to visit the Pluto system, returning detailed images and data that will bring our distant neighbor’s surface, atmosphere, and internal composition into focus for the first time.

Learn more about the historic New Horizons Flyby.