Gaggle of dwarf planets found by Dark Energy Camera

Gaggle of dwarf planets found by dark energy camera

Our solar system just got a little more crowded, thanks to discoveries from a huge digital camera designed to study dark energy.

Last week astronomers reported the discovery of 2012 VP113 – nicknamed "Joe Biden" after the vice president, or VP, of the US. This potential dwarf planet was spotted on the outer fringes of the solar system, in a region called the inner Oort cloud. Days later, the same team reported two more potential dwarfs, known as 2013 FY27 and 2013 FZ27.

Both of these objects are in the Kuiper belt, a grouping of relatively small bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune that is also home to Pluto and three other known dwarf planets. Astronomers suspect the Kuiper belt is littered with dwarfs, but many either reflect too little light or are too distant to have been visible in previous sky surveys.

Dark eye

The fresh haul of discoveries is no coincidence. All three objects were found in images from the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco telescope in Chile, which took its first images in 2012. Boasting 570 megapixels, this camera was designed to collect the faint light from millions of very distant galaxies in the hunt for clues to the nature of dark energy, the mysterious force that is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

See the complete history on NewScientist News