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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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Habitability Of Surrounding Planets Affected By Super Flares Of Red Dwarfs: NASA

Red dwarfs -- especially young red dwarfs -- are active stars, producing flares blast out energy

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Superflares from red dwarfs may affect habitability of planets Pixabay

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have found that violent outbursts, or superflares, from red dwarf stars could affect the habitability of any planets orbiting it.

Young low-mass stars flare much more frequently and more energetically than old stars and middle-age stars like our Sun, the findings of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal showed.

The findings are based on observations of the flare frequency of 12 red dwarfs.

Hubble is observing such stars through a large programme called HAZMAT — Habitable Zones and M dwarf Activity across Time.

“M dwarf” is the astronomical term for a red dwarf star — the smallest, most abundant and longest-living type of star in our galaxy.

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Hubble Telescope. Flickr

The HAZMAT programme is an ultraviolet survey of red dwarfs at three different ages — young, intermediate, and old.

“The goal of the HAZMAT programme is to help understand the habitability of planets around low-mass stars,” explained the programme’s principal investigator, Evgenya Shkolnik from Arizona State University.

“These low-mass stars are critically important in understanding planetary atmospheres,” Shkolnik added.

Stellar flares from red dwarfs are particularly bright in ultraviolet wavelengths, compared with Sun-like stars.

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Artist’s view of planets transiting red dwarf star in TRAPPIST-1 system. Flickr

Hubble’s ultraviolet sensitivity makes the telescope very valuable for observing these flares.

The flares are believed to be powered by intense magnetic fields that get tangled by the roiling motions of the stellar atmosphere.

When the tangling gets too intense, the fields break and reconnect, unleashing tremendous amounts of energy.

The team found that the flares from the youngest red dwarfs they surveyed — just about 40 million years old — are 100 to 1,000 times more energetic than when the stars are older.

This younger age is when terrestrial planets are forming around their stars.

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This illustration shows a red dwarf star orbited by a hypothetical exoplanet. NASA

About three-quarters of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of the galaxy’s “habitable-zone” planets — planets orbiting their stars at a distance where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to exist on their surface — orbit red dwarfs.

In fact, the nearest star to our Sun, a red dwarf named Proxima Centauri, has an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone.

Also Read: NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery To Moon

However, red dwarfs — especially young red dwarfs — are active stars, producing flares that could blast out so much energy that it disrupts and possibly strips off the atmospheres of these fledgling planets. (IANS)