What Are Trans-Neptunian Objects? Scientists Spot Unusually Close Binary TNOs

KEY POINTS

  • A team of researchers spotted a close pair of trans-Neptunian objects
  • The unusually close pair was also occulting a binary star system
  • The discovery was made with the help of a citizen science project

With the help of a citizen science research network, a team of researchers has discovered an unusual pair of trans-Neptunian objects (TNO).

Any object in our solar system that has an orbit beyond Neptune is considered a TNO. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), there are about 70,000 known TNOs, including Pluto, each measuring at least 100 kilometers (62.137 miles​) across.

In a new study, published in The Planetary Science Journal, a team of researchers discovered a TNO pair orbiting each other. The researchers discovered them using a stellar occultation, which occurs when the light of a star is blocked by an object from reaching the observer, a news release from the 

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