Astrophysicist David Gerdes recently discovered a new dwarf planet that exists in our solar system past Pluto (pictured above.) It floats in space at the furthest extent of the Kuiper Belt.
Dubbed 2014 UZ224, a name not quite as quick off the tongue as some other dwarf planets like “Makemake” or “Ceres,” the planet is about the size of Iowa, or half the size of Pluto. Given its miniature form, it may not even qualify as a dwarf planet. Scientists will reportedly debate that fact, according to The Washington Post.
The planet was first spotted two years ago. Gerdes needed to confirm that it was indeed a planet by watching its movement patterns across the sky. That wasn’t easy, according to The Washington Post, given that the planet moves at an incredibly slow pace. 2014 UZ224 only rotates around the sun about once every 1,000 years.
Why this matters:
Scientists reportedly believe that there are more than 100 dwarf planets in our solar system and, thanks to techniques taught by Gerdes, they’re now able to start to identify many of them. 2014 Uz224 is about 8.5 billion miles from earth, making its discovery rather incredible.