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Astronomers find mini-planet in solar system's backyard

Published on Mar 27, 2014 7:27 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL (REUTERS) - Astronomers have found a dwarf planet far beyond the orbit of Pluto and can only guess how it got there.

The diminutive world, provisionally called "2012 VP 113" by the international Minor Planet Centre, is estimated to be about 450km in diameter, less than half the size of a neighbouring dwarf planet named Sedna discovered a decade ago.

Sedna and VP 113 are the first objects found in a region of the solar system previously believed to be devoid of planetary bodies.

The proverbial no-man's land extended from the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt, home to the dwarf planet Pluto and more than 1,000 other small icy bodies, to the comet-rich Oort Cloud, which orbits the sun some 10,000 times farther away than Earth.

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