While we were focused on all the news that happened here on Earth this week, we neglected to keep up with everything that was happening in (or about) space. A tremendous oversight that we will now correct with this recap of the reports from outer space
Dwarf planet "Biden"
Scientists have discovered a far-out object circling the Sun, which they believe to be a dwarf planet and the most distant member of the observable solar system.
The object, called 2012 VP113 (VP or Biden for short) contributes to the theory that "the outer reaches of our solar system are not an empty wasteland as once was thought," according to Chadwick Trujillo, one of the researchers who helped make the discovery. NASA explains further:
There appears to be an edge to the solar system where only one object somewhat smaller than Pluto, Sedna, was previously known to inhabit for its entire orbit. But the newly found 2012 VP113 has an orbit that stays even beyond Sedna, making it the furthest known in the solar system.
If VP is identified as a brown dwarf, it will join the ranks of Sedna, which was discovered in 2003, and Pluto, which was ousted from the list of planets, in 2006. Its distance from Earth means it is located, along with Sedna, in inner part of the hypothesized Oort cloud; a spherical cloud made up of small, icy "planetesimals" that is located roughly one light-year away from the sun.
Because the inner Oort cloud is so far away, it offers scientists the opportunity to study objects removed from the gravitational pull of stars or other planets. According to the Los Angeles Times, this makes them 'like a dynamic 'fossil' of interplanetary movement in the early solar system."