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A New Planet Dwarf Planet Discovered Beyond Pluto

The two other dwarf planets are Sedna, discovered in 2003, which is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across, and 2012 VP113, about 310 miles (500 kilometers).

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A planet-like object, dubbed "Sedna" is seen in this artist's concept released by NASA, March 26, 2014. A similar dwarf planet, nicknamed "the Goblin," has been discovered well beyond Pluto.. VOA
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A scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed “the Goblin” has been discovered well beyond Pluto.

Around frozen world just 186 miles (300 kilometers) across, the Goblin was spotted by astronomers in 2015 around Halloween, thus its spooky name. But it wasn’t publicly unveiled until Tuesday following further observations with ground telescopes.

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, said the Goblin is on the small end for a dwarf planet. It is officially known as 2015 TG387 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

This is the third dwarf planet recently found to be orbiting on the frigid fringes of our solar system.

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In this image of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, different colors represent different compositions of surface ices, revealing a surprisingly active body. (Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute) VOA

Goblin’s orbit is extremely elongated — so stretched out, in fact, that it takes 40,000 years for it to circle the sun.

At its most distant, the Goblin is 2,300 times farther from the sun than Earth. That’s 2,300 astronomical units, or AU. One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun, or roughly 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

At its closest, the Goblin is 65 times farther from the sun than Earth, or 65 AU. Pluto, by comparison, is approximately 30 to 50 AU.

Sheppard, along with Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, spotted the Goblin in October 2015 when it was relatively nearby — around 80 AU.

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The Planet is farthest from the sun.

The two other dwarf planets are Sedna, discovered in 2003, which is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across, and 2012 VP113, about 310 miles (500 kilometers). They were found by some of the same astronomers.

Thousands — even a million — more such objects could be way out there orbiting in the so-called Inner Oort Cloud, according to the researchers. They’re in hot pursuit of them, as well as a potentially bigger-than-Earth planet known as Planet 9, or Planet X, believed by some scientists to be orbiting at a distance of hundreds of AU.

“These objects are on elongated orbits, and we can only detect them when they are closest to the Sun. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Sheppard said in an email.

Also Read: Surface of Pluto Has Sharps Blades of Ice as Tall as The Skyscrapers of New York

Sheppard said the faraway objects are “like bread crumbs leading us to Planet X.”

“The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer solar system and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits — a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the solar system’s evolution,” he said in a statement. (VOA)

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SpaceX Dragon Delivers To International Space Station After Delay

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20.

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In this image taken from NASA Television, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the robotic arm for docking to the International Space Station. VOA

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship finally delivered more than 2,500 kilograms of holiday treats Saturday to the International Space Station after a communications drop-out delayed the shipment.

After two approach attempts, the Dragon locked onto the orbiting lab three days after launching from Cape Canaveral in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.

NASA nixed the first approach because of a glitch in the communication network that serves the space station.

SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station.
SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station. VOA
 Mission Control ordered the Dragon to back up from the station before approaching again after NASA switched another communications satellite.

With the Dragon positioned about nine meters from the station, Commander Alexander Gerst locked the lab’s robot arm onto the cargo ship one-and-a-half hours later than planned.

In addition to holiday offerings — including smoked turkey, green bean casserole and fruit cake — mice and worms also were delivered for science experiments.

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20. Until then, the station will be home to six astronauts: Gerst, who is German, two Americans, two Russians and one Canadian. (VOA)