Monday, September 08, 2008

Distant object 'found orbiting Sun backwards'

London (PTI): Astronomers have found an object in the icy Kuiper belt, which they claim is actually orbiting the Sun backwards compared to the planets in the Solar System. An international team, led by University of British Columbia, spotted the new object, called 2008 KV42, which lies in the Kuiper belt that is a ring of icy bodies beyond outer planet Neptune. According to the astronomers, the object's orbit is inclined 103.5 to the plane of the Earth's orbit, which means that as it orbits the Sun, it actually travels in the opposite direction as the planets. Observations have revealed that the object is about 50 kilometres across and travels on a path that takes it from the distance of Uranus to more than twice that of Neptune, the 'New Scientist' reported. According to lead astronomer Brett Gladman, the object was probably born in the same place as Halley-type comets that also travel on retrograde or highly tilted orbits -- lasting between 20 and 200 years, but they come closer to the Sun.

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