In recent years, technology has evolved in such a way that it allows for a more accurate analysis of images and data captured by space instruments. One example was the discoveries made by astronomers of a huge, and hitherto unknown object that will enter our solar system and reach Saturn’s orbit in 2031.
After traveling for more than 612,000 years, 2014 UN271, a giant fragment of the Oort Cloud, approaches our Sun.
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It is possibly the largest body in our solar system ever found approaching the Sun. According to New Scientist, the object is ready to make the closest pass in its orbit, which takes more than 612,000 years to complete.
Known as UN271 2014, the object was discovered in June this year, when images were first taken in October 2014, the object was 4.3 billion kilometers from the Sun and almost as far away as Neptune’s orbit.
It is estimated that 2014 UN271 is between 100 and 370 kilometers wide. Placing itself on a scale, if not larger than that of the massive Sarabat comet, and almost certainly the largest Oort Cloud object ever discovered, almost in the territory of a dwarf planet, astronomer Sam Deen reported in a post on the Minor Planet Mailing List forum .
The most intriguing thing about 2014 UN271 is its orbit around the Sun. It is extremely eccentric, between the inner solar system and the Oort Cloud, which marks the boundary of interstellar space, over a period of 612,190 years.
As we can see from his trip calculations, currently 2014 UN271 is about 22 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun (1 AU is the distance between the Sun and Earth). It has traveled 7 AU in the last seven years to pass Neptune’s orbit, and at its closest point in 2031, it is expected to pass 10.9 AU from the Sun, nearly reaching Saturn’s orbit.
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