How BIG is the solar system?

The short answer is: it is larger than you thought – and even astronomers are having to recalibrate their estimates.

The solar system consists of the four inner planets (including our own), the asteroid belt, the four outer planets (or five if you count Pluto),  and then the Kuiper Belt and probably the Oort Cloud.

But now we have the news that:

“Astronomers have increased the size of the observable solar system after spotting a 450-km wide object orbiting the sun. The lump of ice and rock circles the sun at a greater distance than any known object, and never gets closer than 12bn kilometres – 80 times the distance from Earth to the sun.

If its size is confirmed it could qualify as a dwarf planet in the same category as Pluto. Researchers said the discovery proves the existence of the inner Oort cloud, a region of icy bodies that lies far beyond the orbit of Neptune – which at 4.5bn kilometres from the sun is the most remote planet in the solar system.

Until a proper name is decided upon, the body is known only as 2012 VP113. According to the science journal Nature, the team that discovered it call it VP for short, or “Biden”, after US vice president Joe Biden.”


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