New Dwarf Planet Named After Joe Biden


Guess what? Joe Biden now has a dwarf planet named after him:

The new planetoid, estimated about to be about 250 miles wide, is now 7.7 billion miles from the sun. That is about the closest it gets. At the other end of its orbit, the planetoid, which for now carries the unwieldy designation of 2012 VP113, loops out to a distance of 42 billion miles….For convenience, the scientists shorten the 2012 VP113 designation to VP, which in turn inspired their nickname for planetoid: Biden, after Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Appropriately, the actions of the Biden dwarf suggest the presence of something more powerful in the neighborhood:

Intriguingly, the astronomers said that details of the orbits hint at perhaps an unseen planet several times the size of Earth at the solar system’s distant outskirts….Trujillo and Dr. Sheppard point out that Sedna and 2012 VP113 have similar values for one orbital parameter known as the argument of perhelion, as do several other bodies at the edge of the Kuiper Belt. That could be a sign of the gravitational influence of an unseen planet.

Computer simulations showed that the data could be explained by a planet with a mass five times that of Earth at a distance of 23 billion miles from the sun, too dim to show up in current sky surveys.

The bad news is that if this turns out to be true, it “could reopen the debate over the definition of ‘planet.'” Please. Not that. Haven’t we done enough damage to the solar system already?

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate