An enigmatic dwarf planet termed Snow White was found to be larger than the astronomers’ estimates. There is apparently more than meets the eye here.
A far-off planet temporarily named Snow White has turned out to be bigger than it was previously thought to be. It is in fact the third largest dwarf planet in the entire solar system.
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The study showed that Snow White was 955 miles in diameter. This was a far cry from the erstwhile measurement of 795 miles. It remains an unnamed object though.
Currently, it is called 2007 OR10. A novel video clip of the planet has emerged. This comes courtesy of NASA. If this new measurement is accurate, then the only other planets larger than Snow White are Pluto and Eris.
They happen to be 1475 and 1445 miles in diameter respectively. At the fourth slot comes Haumea which is 1195 miles across. As for the 890 mile Makemake, it clocks in at the fifth spot.
There is still some controversy regarding Snow White’s dimensions. It could be as much as 1000 miles across or as little as 814 miles in diameter. The size lies in the measurer’s tools of gauging the planet.
One of the researchers who spotted Snow White way back in 2007 warned that this uncertainty would remain and that it ought to be taken into consideration by future astronomers.
The planet remains the least accurately measured of space entities so care is of the essence here. Pluto too underwent a re-view when it was kicked out of the list of planets in the solar system by the astronomers in 2006.
Other larger than usual objects that have been found include Eris and Sedna. This has sent the scientists scurrying home to reclassify what counts as a planet and what doesn’t.
Snow White goes around the sun every 547.5 years or so. It has a radical elliptical pathway which it follows in its circumambulation. It gets close enough to the sun so that it is 33 AU away.
Then it goes so far away as to be 101 AU away from the sun. This is the paradox of this planet. An AU (Astronomical Unit) is the distance from the earth to the sun. It is a standard measuring tool used by astronomers.
The size revision needs looking into as far as Snow White is concerned. Science does not consider anything to be so sacrosanct as to disallow inquiry and observation. Nothing is fixed and today’s realities become tomorrow’s myths.
2007 OR10, the largest unnamed body in the solar system, was visible during the K2 mission's campaign three for 19 days in late 2014. K2 is the new mission of Kepler spacecraft. The apparent movement of the faint dwarf planet (indicated with the arrow) among the stars is caused by the changing position of Kepler as it orbits around the sun. The diffuse light sweeping across is a reflection from the much brighter planet Mars passing nearby.
Credits: Konkoly Observatory/László Molnár and András Pál