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  • First look    March 27 
Astronomers may have discovered an enormous new planet at the edge of the solar system

After discovering a new icy dwarf planet past Pluto, two astronomers are reporting in the journal Nature that a larger planet might be concealed in the outer limits of the solar system.

National Geographic reports that the newly discovered dwarf planet, named 2012 VP113 (nicknamed "Biden") and located more than 800,000 million miles away from the sun, has an orbit that seems to be affected by another, mystery planet predicted to be two to 10 times heavier than Earth. That same mystery planet also possibly stretched out the orbit of Sedna, an object the size of a dwarf planet discovered 10 years ago. "To all intents and purposes, in the current architecture of the solar system, Sedna and 2012 VP113 should not be there," astronomer Megan Schwamb of Taiwan's Academia Sinica said in a commentary in Nature. "This suggests that Sedna and 2012 VP113 are the tip of the iceberg."

This composite photo shows 2012 VP113 in motion — the red, green, and blue dots are colored photos of the dwarf planet taken two hours apart. --Catherine Garcia

Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

 
 
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