(225088) 2007 OR10 is a binary trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun in the scattered disc, approximately 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) in diameter. It is the fourth-largest known body in the Solar System beyond the orbit of Neptune, and continues to be the largest known body in the Solar System without a name. According to estimates as of May 2016, it is slightly larger than Makemake, and is hence almost certainly a dwarf planet. It has one known moon, approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) in diameter.
|(225088) 2007 OR10|
2007 OR10 and its moon seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2010
|Discovered by||M. E. Schwamb
M. E. Brown
D. L. Rabinowitz
|Discovery site||Palomar Obs.|
|Discovery date||17 July 2007 [a]|
|MPC designation||(225088) 2007 OR10|
|TNO  · SDO  · 3:10 res.
|Orbital characteristics |
|Epoch 16 February 2017 (JD 2457800.5)|
|Uncertainty parameter 4|
|Observation arc||30.09 yr (10,989 days)|
|Earliest precovery date||19 August 1985|
|549.16 yr (200,579 days)|
|0° 0m 6.48s / day|
|Known satellites||1 (300 km )|
|1.8 · 2.34|
(225088) 2007 OR10 was discovered on 17 July 2007, American astronomers Megan Schwamb, Michael Brown and David Rabinowitz at Palomar Observatory in California. It was part of the PhD thesis of Megan Schwamb, then a graduate student of Michael Brown at CalTech.
Brown nicknamed the object "Snow White" for its presumed white color, because it would have to be very large or very bright to be detected by their survey. By that time, Brown's team had already discovered "seven dwarves": Quaoar in 2002, Sedna in 2003, Haumea, Salacia and Orcus in 2004, and Makemake and Eris in 2005. However, 2007 OR10 turned out to be one of the reddest objects in the Kuiper belt, comparable only to Quaoar, so the nickname was dropped.
2007 OR10 is currently the largest known object in the Solar System without an official name. In 2011 Brown decided he finally had enough information to justify giving it one, because the discovery of water ice and the possibility of methane makes it noteworthy enough to warrant further study. However, as of 2017, Brown had yet to propose a name, though he notes that in November 2019 anyone will be able to make a proposal.
(225088) 2007 OR10 came to perihelion of 33 AUs around 1857. As of March 2018 it is located 87.9 AUs from the Sun and moving away from the Sun at 1.1 kilometers per second (2,500 miles per hour). This makes it the fifth-farthest known large body in the Solar System, after Eris (96.3 AU), V774104 (<96 AU?), 2014 UZ224 (91.4 AU), 2015 TH367 (89.2 AU), and farther out than Sedna (85.7 AU) as of 4 February 2017. It has been farther from the Sun than Sedna since 2013. 2007 OR10 will be farther than both Sedna and Eris by 2045, and it will reach aphelion in 2130.
|Most-distant known objects in the
Solar System as of 11 April 2018
|Object name||Distance from the Sun (AU)||Apparent
|This table includes all known objects currently located at least twice as far as Neptune.
See List of trans-Neptunian objects for more.
The size of an object can be calculated from its absolute magnitude (H) and the albedo (the amount of light it reflects). 2007 OR10 has an absolute magnitude (H) of 1.92, which makes it the fifth-brightest TNO known, a little less bright than Sedna (H=1.5; D≈1,000 km) and brighter than Orcus (H=2.2; D≈800 km).
The spectrum of 2007 OR10 shows signatures for both water ice and methane, which makes it similar in composition to Quaoar. The presence of red methane frost on the surfaces of both 2007 OR10 and Quaoar implies the existence of a tenuous methane atmosphere on both objects, slowly evaporating into space. Although 2007 OR10 comes closer to the Sun than Quaoar, and is thus warm enough that a methane atmosphere should evaporate, its larger mass makes retention of an atmosphere just possible. In particular, 2007 OR10's large size means that it is likely to retain even nitrogen, which almost all TNOs lose over the course of their existence. The presence of water ice on the surface of 2007 OR10 implies a brief period of cryovolcanism in its distant past.
The Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES) shows the orbit to be in a 3:10 resonance with Neptune. The MPC lists it as a scattered-disc object. 2007 OR10 was discovered when searching for objects in the region of Sedna.
It was formally announced on 7 January 2009.
Based on the most recent size estimates as of May 2016, 2007 OR10 would be the fourth-largest dwarf planet, after Pluto, Eris, and Haumea, and before Makemake and Ceres, though the error bars overlap with those of Makemake. The IAU has not addressed the possibility of accepting additional dwarf planets since before the discovery of 2007 OR10 was announced. Brown states that it "must be a dwarf planet even if predominantly rocky", and Scott Sheppard and colleagues think that it is "likely" to be a dwarf planet, based on its minimum possible diameter (552 km) and what is understood of the conditions for hydrostatic equilibrium in cold icy–rocky bodies. 2007 OR10 is too distant for its diameter to be resolved directly; Brown's estimate of 1,000–1,500 km is based on calculating the albedo that is the best fit in his model, which agrees with the 1280±210 km determined from observations by the Herschel space observatory. Updated thermal modeling put the size into the 1500 km range with a comparatively low albedo of 8%. If the orbit of 2007 OR10's small satellite (see below) can be well determined, its mass could be calculated directly; mass is also a factor in hydrostatic equilibrium.
The slow rotation rate of 2007 OR10, compared to the other TNOs, raised the possibility of a satellite that slowed down the rotation via tidal dissipation. In 2016, analysis of Hubble images of 2007 OR10 taken in 2010 revealed a satellite around 300 km in diameter and orbiting at a distance of at least 15,000 km. It was announced at the DPS48 meeting on 17 October 2016. The satellite is probably too small and dark to affect size estimates for 2007 OR10. Further analysis from May 2017 confirms this orbiting moon.
Objects with distance from Sun over 59 AU