Fresh Mystery Beyond the Kuiper Belt. Bob Zimmerman,

Oct 20, 2016, 06:36 AM

10-20-2016 (Photo: The solar system and its nearby galactic neighborhood are illustrated here on a logarithmic scale extending (from < 1 to) 1 million Astronomical Units (AU). Our Sun and its planets are shielded by a bubble of solar wind - the heliosphere - that is about 100 AU in size. The actual boundary between solar wind and interstellar plasma is called the heliopause. Beyond this bubble is a largely unknown region - the interstellar medium. Threaded through the boundaries of the heliosphere is the Kuiper Belt - the source of short-period comets. The nearest edge of the interstellar cloud that presently surrounds our solar system is thought to be several thousand AU away. The Oort Cloud is a spherical shell of comets extending from <10,000 to ~100,000 AU - the edge of our Sun's gravitational sphere of influence. Alpha-Centauri, the best known member of our nearest star system, lies well beyond at ~300,000 AU. Interstellar Probe is to be man's first spacecraft designed to exit the heliosphere and begin the exploration of the interstellar medium.) Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Fresh Mystery Beyond the Kuiper Belt. Bob Zimmerman,

New object found beyond Kuiper belt October 18, 2016 at 10:20 am Robert Zimmerman Worlds without end: Astronomers have discovered another object far beyond Pluto and in an elliptical orbit whose farthest point is 1,450 astronautical units, or about 135 billion miles from the Sun. This is not the same object recently discovered in a somewhat similar elliptical orbit. Astronomers right now do not understand the formation process that put these objects in these distant orbits. Some think the objects might have originally come from the Oort cloud that is even farther out from the Sun, their orbits shifted by the as-yet undiscovered Planet X that astronomers love to talk about, but others are skeptical. Since no one has ever actually detected anything in the the theorized Oort Cloud, it is also possible that it does not exist as presently theorized, and might actually be a more scattered collection of objects, like these new discoveries, that travel both farther and closer to the Sun.

Astronomers with the Outer Solar System Origins Survey discovered L91 in September 2013 using the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii. The group has been conducting a detailed survey of a small portion of the sky, aiming to catalogue and describe the Kuiper-belt objects within it.

Going long L91’s elliptical orbit never brings its closer to Earth than about 50 times the Earth–Sun distance (or 50 astronomical units, au). At its farthest, the object is 1,430 au away. That means its orbit is more stretched out, and centred farther from the Sun, than previously discovered worlds such as Sedna and 2012 VP113.