July 11, 2016
The International Astronomical Union has given a formal designation to a dwarf planet found orbiting the sun out beyond the orbit of Neptune. The official designation is 2015 RR245, which will be a placeholder until astronomers decide on a more colloquial name.
The object is a giant ball of rock and ice, about half the size of Britain and about 9 billion kilometers away from the Earth. It was first photographed in September of 2015 by a telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii for the Outer Solar System Origins Survey. It meets the definition of a "dwarf planet", as it orbits the Sun and is large enough to be rendered spherical by its own gravity.
Astronomers are interested in these trans-Neptunian objects because they are so far from the Sun that the deep cold, (about -220 Celsius) preserves the original chemical composition from when the body was formed. One astronomer observed: "They are the closest thing to a time capsule that transports us to the birth of the solar system."
Game and Story Use
- A space-based campaign could involve an expedition to visit the planetoid.
- Yes, in my day we called 'em "planetoids" and we liked it that way.
- What mysteries could lie there, untouched since the birth of the Solar System?
- It sounds like a swell vacation spot for the Fungi from Yuggoth.
- Maybe it is Yuggoth!