30 years of discovery from 1992 QB1 – The beginning of the end of the planet Pluto

30 years of discovery from 1992 QB1 - The beginning of the end of the planet Pluto

In four hours, 1992 QB1 moved significantly against a backdrop of stars (NTT/ESO)

30 years ago, a telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii discovered an asteroid orbiting the sun beyond Neptune. For more than 60 years, only Pluto was known there.

1992 QB1, as it is officially called, was discovered by Vietnamese-American astronomer Jane Luu and her British-American colleague David Jewitt.

Only about 150 kilometers in diameter

It is only about 150 kilometers in diameter and orbits even farther from the sun than Pluto. Initially, some even considered it the tenth planet.

In the years that followed, the number of known bodies in the “Kuiper Belt” on the outskirts of the solar system increased by leaps and bounds. Experts now know more than 2000 objects in this region.

Some are about the size of Pluto. Since they cannot all be counted as planets, Pluto belongs to the newly created group of dwarf planets since 2006.

The “happiness” of the ninth planet

The ninth planet was simply “lucky” to have been discovered in 1930 – at that time the classification as a planet was absolutely correct.

QB1, as experts simply called it for a long time, was finally named Albion – after a character from the invented mythology of the English writer William Blake. Albion is an old name for Great Britain.

Luu and Jewitt originally named their find “Smiley” – but the smiley face couldn’t be the godfather because there was already an asteroid with that name, named after astronomer Charles Smiley.

ESO press release on the discovery of the “new Paneten”
Albion, 1992 the first asteroid beyond Neptune

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