A New Neighbor has Emerged


The Conceptual Objective of this article requires that I discuss the nature of our solar system and how it was formed. As per usual, I will do this by first explaining the conceptual objective and then relate the article to the topic at hand, and activities in class.

The nature of our solar system is rather conventional. In the center is our star (the sun) with rocky planets orbiting close by, these are known as terrestrial planets, with few moons and no rings. Then, farther away from the Sun are jovian planets. These planets are much larger in size with a lower average density and lack solid surfaces for they compose of hydrogen compounds. Outside these large planets are small dwarf planets and/or distant moons not large enough to qualify for the title “planet”.

In the image above,  the emense size of DeeDee’s orbit. As discussed in our lecture tutorial on page 111, the distance of a planet has a direct effect on the planet’s temperature when it was forming. With Neptune about 30 AU put, it was roughly 35 K. With DeeDee being 92 AU out, it is most likely near 20 K (room temperature being 293 K).

No one is certain about the origin of our solar system, but there is a widely accepted theory called the nebular theory. This theory holds that our solar system was formed by the gravitational collapses of a great cloud of gas. It was after this creation of our host star that the protoplanetary disk began to form. With the new gravitational force of the young star a tremendous amount of space dust and small rocks begin to be attracted to the star thus creating the disk. After years and years of the dust and rocks hitting one another, small asteroids become large asteroids and eventually become planets.

Discussed in the article linked above was “planetary body 2014 UZ224” referred to by its more informal name “Dee Dee”. This Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) was just discovered in 2016 and is a “far-flung member” of our solar system family. Scientists say that this TNO is “Cosmic leftover from the formation of the solar system”. This means that this object survived till now either dodging space debris, or it has gathered enough mass to come out on top when encountering asteroids and what not.

I wasn’t too crazy about this article because there was no way of really knowing much about that TNO at this point. It’s exciting that we can learn more about our solar system from this object but that won’t be for a very long time. Especially since a lot of space travel and research is going to be pointed at Mars or the moons of Jupiter in the coming years.


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