Supernova Seen by 12th Century Chinese Astronomers Identified in Deep Space

 More than 600,000 years ago, the trans-Neptunian object last approached this near.

A new trans-Neptunian object that may be the biggest object ever found in the Oort Cloud has been found by astronomers. Its diameter is estimated to be between 130 and 370 kilometers, and in early 2031, when it will pass between Uranus and Saturn's orbits, the object will make its closest approach to the Sun. The Minor Planet Center's website announced the discovery's news.

Learn all there is to know about the biggest object ever found in the Oort Cloud.

1. Astronomers Gary Bernstein and Pedro Bernardinelli made the discovery of 2014 UN271 by reanalyzing the DES (Dark Energy Survey) database of sky photos from 2014 to 2018.

2. The object was roughly 29 astronomical units away from Earth at the time of its first detection in 2014. Because it takes so long to look for trans-Neptunian objects in DES data, the finding was only announced on June 19, 2021, according to scientists.

3. The object is now 20.2 astronomical units away from the Earth. Its orbit is extended (eccentricity 0.99) and steeply inclined (95.4 degrees) with respect to the ecliptic plane, which results in the previous barycentric aphelion being calculated to be 39,400 astronomical units from the Sun.

The minor planet 2014 UN271, which will make its closest approach to the Sun in 2031, is currently located and is in the orbit of what may be the biggest Oort Cloud object to date. JPL Small-Body Database as source

4. The new value, after getting closer to the Sun, will be 54,600 astronomical units, indicating that 2014 UN271 has entered the inner Oort cloud.

5. 2014 UN271 has an absolute star magnitude of 7.87, which, when paired with an estimated albedo value of 0.01-0.08, results in an object with a diameter that falls between 130 and 370 kilometers.

6. As a result, 2014 UN271 may be a dwarf planet or a trans-Neptunian object that is about as big as the comet C/1729 P1's nucleus.

7. Although no coma was seen in the object between 2014 and 2018, scientists think that 2014 UN271 may start to show comet-like behaviour as it gets closer to the Sun.

the biggest object that scientists have seen in the Oort Cloud. Even if the picture is not as good, 2014 UN271 is still too far away to be seen clearly. Credit: DES Survey / Pedro Bernardinelli

8. The perihelion point, which lies around 10.5 astronomical units from the Sun, will be crossed by 2014 UN271 in the early years of 2031. The small planet's orbital period around the Sun is thought to be roughly 600,000 years, according to astronomers.

9. How lucky that, in our lives, we will see the closest flyby of the greatest Oort Cloud object. In any case, amateur astronomers are unlikely to have the opportunity to see it via conventional telescopes. The item won't be very brilliant, according to experts. The scientists anticipate that they will be able to view it with the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope at the same time.

10. In regards to the DES survey, scientists pledge to provide a fresh comprehensive catalog of trans-Neptunian objects found in the first four years of observations, including 2014 UN271, in the following three months.


• The International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center. (n.d.). 2014 UN271 MPEC 2021-M53.

• Irving, M. (2021, June 21). Extremely eccentric minor planet to visit inner solar system this decade. Atlas New.

• NASA. (n.d.). JPL Small-Body Database Browser.

• O’Callaghan, J. (2021, June 21). An enormous ‘mega comet’ is flying into our solar system. New Scientist.

• Robitzski, D. (2021, June 21). A Tiny Planet Will Soon Drift Nearer to Earth Than Since Caveman Times. Futurism.