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Trans-Neptunian object

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Trans-Neptunian object
NASA diagram shows the presumed distance of the Oort cloud compared to the solar system planets, the Kuiper belt, and the orbit of Sedna.
Trans-Neptunian Objects are objects having semi-major axes larger than that of the planet Neptune.[1]

Naming conventions

A significant number of astronomers today insist that all trans-Neptunian objects, regardless of whether Neptune has any gravitational influence upon them, should be called Kuiper belt objects.[2][3]But today, an increasing number of astronomers distinguish the Kuiper belt from other trans-Neptunian regions, primarily using orbital characteristics as the criterion for this distinction.[4]

Primary theoretical considerations

As sources of comets

Since 1951, when Gerard P. Kuiper published his original hypothesis concerning non-accreted icy remnants of the solar nebula, conventional astronomers have long held trans-Neptunian objects, by whatever name, to be the source of comets, of periods long or short.


Conventional astronomers, applying the Nebula theory, hold all these objects (except for the hypothetical Nemesis) as remnants of the formation of the solar system that could not accrete into planets. Most of these objects, except for the most distant objects in the scattered disk, are supposed to have moved into their present orbits under the gravitational influence of Neptune.

But conventional astronomers have a serious problem, according to Walt Brown, originator of the Hydroplate theory.

On 27 March 2014, Trujillo and Shepard announced a new body, similar to Sedna, having an 80-AU perihelion. They named this object 2012 VP113. They published their findings in the journal Nature.[5] In the same issue, Megan Schwamb noted the twelve farthest-distant trans-Neptunian objects all had arguments of periapsis that were too similar for coincidence.[6]

The two objects [Sedna and 2012 VP113] have similar values for one of their orbital parameters: the angle [ω] between the point of perihelion and where the orbit crosses the plane of the Solar System [from south to north]. Interestingly, the most distant [TNOs], with semimajor axes greater than 150 AU and perihelia beyond Neptune, also seem to have values for such angles comparable to those of Sedna and 2012 VP113. Such clustering of orbital angles seems to be unexplainable by the gravitational influence of Neptune alone. This result may be the first hint we have of an identifiable signature of the ... formation mechanism [for TNOs]. If true, any formation mechanism proposed for the origin of Sedna and 2012 VP113 [and the other ten most distant TNOs] will need to explain this orbital structure.

Brown has an explanation.[7] According to him, all the trans-Neptunian objects had their origin from material ejected violently into space from Earth during the Global Flood. Three percent of the mass of earth escaped this way. Some of it formed into objects so large (including Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and 2012 VP113 that they constantly outgassed water vapor on whatever side faced the sun. This propelled these objects to the far distances where most TNO's orbit the sun today.

Classes of trans-Neptunian objects

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Trans-Neptunian objects today belong to four major classes (not counting the Centaurs, an entirely different class of object):
  • The Kuiper belt, containing those objects that remain between 30 and 50 AU distant from the Sun[4]
  • The scattered disk, containing objects having perihelia of 30 AU or greater and semi-major axes of 50 AU or greater.[4]
  • The Oort cloud, the hypothetical and probably factitious sphere of icy objects held to be the source of long-period comets[4]
  • Nemesis, the hypothetical and probably factitious red or brown dwarf star that is supposed to enter the Oort cloud and perturb it once every 26 million years.

Discovery and observation

The first-ever trans-Neptunian object to be discovered was the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930. The next was Pluto's largest satellite Charon in 1978.[8] After the discovery of object 1992 QB1, astronomers have discovered more than 800 of these objects, but not nearly as many as some astronomers have predicted.

The New Horizons rocket probe, now on its way to Pluto, will be the first rocket probe to study a Trans-Neptunian object. Mission planners hope to steer the probe to study at least two other Kuiper belt objects in addition to Pluto.


  1. "Space Topics: Trans-Neptunian Objects." The Planetary Society, n.d. Accessed June 24, 2008.
  2. Jewitt, David. "Kuiper Belt." University of Hawaii, n.d. Accessed June 20, 2008.
  3. Johnston, William Robert. "Trans-Neptunian Objects." October 1, 2007. Accessed June 24, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Types of Trans-Neptunian Objects." The Planetary Society, n.d. Accessed June 24, 2008.
  5. Trujillo CA and Shepard SS, "A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units," Nature, 507, 471–474 (27 March 2014). doi:10.1038/nature13156 Retrieved 22 August 2014
  6. Schwamb ME, "Solar System: Stranded in no-man's-land", Nature, 507, 435–436 (27 March 2014) doi:10.1038/507435a Retrieved 22 August 2014
  7. Brown WT, "Origin of Trans-Neptunian Objects," in In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Ceration and the Flood. <> Retrieved 22 August 2014
  8. Whitman, Justine. "Pluto and the Kuiper Belt." <>, Apriil 16, 2006. Accessed June 24, 2008.

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