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Hubble saw the invisible object in the Kuiper belt.. / December 18, 2009 /

Astronomers have discovered the smallest of the known Kuiper belt objects — the region of the solar system beyond Neptune, which focuses many small bodies. Lock this object can not be directly, so the researchers used a special technique, described in an article in the journal Nature. Briefly described the opening of the portal telescope Hubble.

The diameter of the object is 975 meters and the distance to it more than 6.7 billion kilometers. The previous record was approximately 50 times greater. Most faint objects that can «see» Hubble ", must be at least 100 times brighter than a public body.

Scientists have discovered an object, using indirect methods. In order to focus before and during the observations, the Hubble uses sensors precision. They operate by defining position of the telescope on the distant stars. To do this, sensors for a long time are aimed at the lights. Authors of new work used this feature of the telescope to search for new objects in the Kuiper belt.

If some body will take place against the background stars, it will cause a short-term change in its brightness. Analyzing the parameters of this change, scientists can determine the characteristics of the object that caused «flashing» (similar way astronomers look for planets outside the solar system). After examining the data «scrutiny» «Hubble» 50 thousand stars, astronomers have recorded a single episode of «flashing» the duration of 0,3 seconds.

Recently, observations led to the discovery zone, similar to the Kuiper Belt, around other stars. More recently, U.S. astronomers announced the discovery of two similar belts around Epsilon Eridani — one of the closest stars to the Sun.

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