Various publications report the Gemini Telescope is associated with the discovery of the Solar System’s 10th planet now dubbed Xena.
The new object – as yet unnamed, but temporarily designated as 2003 UB313 – is currently 9 billion miles away from the Sun, or 97 times as far away as the Earth and about three times Pluto’s current distance from the Sun. But its 560-year elliptical orbit also brings it as close as 3.3 billion miles. Pluto’s orbit ranges between 2.7 billion and 4.6 billion miles.
The discovery was made Jan. 8 using a 48-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory in California. Dr. Brown and the other members of the team – Chadwick A. Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and David L. Rabinowitz of Yale University – then found that they had, unknowingly, taken images of the planet taken as far back as 2003.
Xena was popular when the group began its search in 2000.
The discovery will once again raise a debate about whether Pluto is in fact a planet.