back to article In case you want to flee this wretched Earth, 139 minor planets were spotted at the outer reaches of our Solar System. Just an FYI...

Astronomers have discovered 139 minor planets lurking at the edge of the Solar System after examining a dataset collected to study dark energy in the universe. Small worlds that circle our Sun in orbits further out than Neptune are labelled trans-Neptunian objects (TNO), with one being the relegated-planet Pluto. Eggheads, led …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Let's Hope...

    ...That one of them is called Rama.

  2. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Oh goody, lots more material for building the Dyson Sphere out of.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Dyson Spheres are impractical until you have true artificial gravity (and anti-gravity), rings are a lot easier and just as stable (totally not).

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Devil

        Dyson rings?

        But how will my Dyson vacuum work with rings?

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Dyson rings?

          I guess you'll be appearing in that special edition of the Lancet if you try putting your Dyson near your ring.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Dyson rings?

            "special edition of the Lancet"

            Likewise if you misinterpret the intent of the Dyson ball cleaner.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: Dyson rings?

              Thanks for that :)

        2. rtspam

          Re: Dyson rings?

          It's bagless so hopefully, it will be able to capture all of that space dust

      2. tony72

        Dyson Swarm ftw

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Republican here...

    ... I hope those trans-neptunian objects stick to their own bathroom!

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Alien

    Are we sure it's not the alien invasion fleet just circling out there and bidding their time until they're ready to attack?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's OK, my neighbour has a small dog.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        "...OK, one last time, Dougal. These are small... but the ones out there are far away. Small... far away... ah forget it!"

    2. SloppyJesse

      "bidding their time"

      That could explain some of the entries on ebay...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If one of the TNOs is called Rupert, we're screwed.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Detection

    Well, if they're very dim perhaps we could find more by shining a very bright light on them?

    Good news: all of a sudden we can see a lot more TNOs.

    Bad news: a supernova has just gone off a few light years away.

    1. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

      Re: Detection

      Big, big bomb time? [Why do I have a vision of a girl saying this?]

      Perhaps light off a really *huge* Tsar Bomba-style girl out in the distant Lagrange zone with hundreds of telescopes and probes looking all over the sky to catch light bounced off anything out there in the darkness? Due to signal-lag we would need to keep them running al day, every day for four years so we could map the Oort Cloud.

      Maybe even use up our nuclear stockpile to do stereo imaging with many light sources?

      We'd need cameras on Luna's Farside [sneaky!], in Earth's Trojans and in some other nice places, too, to capture as much data as possible. Maybe even to do interferometry.

      Essentially, we'd be doing strobe photography of the System. Cool, yes?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Detection

        Oh great - make the system have an epileptic fit! Just what we need right now.

      2. Francis Boyle

        Re: Detection

        These things are Kuiper belt objects. You're really going to have to ramp up the power if you want to see anything in the Oort cloud. Maybe borrow a spare supernova from the neighbours.

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: Detection

          Maybe borrow a spare supernova from the neighbours.

          I've got one you can borrow.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Detection

            I know that old supernova of yours - last time I used it, it sprayed iron atoms all over the neighbourhood and it took ages to get the thorium out of the nasturtiums.

      3. Big_Boomer Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Detection

        Do you think your piddly ass little nuclear bomb is going to light up the Oort cloud better than the 2x10³ºKg continuous Fusion Bomb that we call The Sun? <rotflmao>

        A nearby Nova or Supernova will help, but if it's near enough we'd all be dead anyways, so nobody to observe the nice reflected light. Cheaper and easier to send some accountants or Quantity Surveyors out there and let then do their thang! <LOL>

    2. janusng

      Re: Detection

      That's a brilliant idea. The only problem is, we don't have the technology.

      Sure we can make something as bright or even brighter than the sun in term of brightness per unit area. However, even if we cover our whole planet with this light, it has to be 10 thousands brighter than the sun to get the same output as the sun since the sun is 10 thousands bigger in area. And then TNOs receive double brightness. I don't think it really helps. And the for all the energy of humankind has collected the entire human history, cannot light it up for a second. At the current rate of our entire population increasing energy consumption, sustaining it running is not achievable for thousands of years, even if we put all our energy harvested to it.

      I am sure we have better ways to do it as well as better use of the energy now or later.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Detection

        Read the second and third lines of my post. I fear you have been whooshed.

  6. Chozo
    Coat

    God does not play dice

    the omnipotent one is clearly a fan of marbles

  7. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Unknown minor bodies?

    What is this, the BBC? You keep them unknown. Perverts!

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    What we see isn't all that might be there

    The potential is that there could be another asteroid belt further out. There have been suggestions for a long time that there's a larger object out there to explain some minor discrepancies in the inner orbits of planets, could there be just a couple of billion tones of small debris? A disturbance in the outer ring, or the formation of the outer ring, might explain the Late Heavy Bombardment about 4 billion years ago that reshaped the Earth.

    This is going to be a very interesting research area for the next 20 years.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: What we see isn't all that might be there

      Actually, it's just the building materials the Ringworld Engineers put there prior to getting full galactic approval for the job.

      1. stuartnz

        Re: What we see isn't all that might be there

        If that's true, we really SHOULD beware of the leopard. (El Reg style mashup)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What we see isn't all that might be there

      "a couple of billion tones [sic] of small debris"

      A couple of billion tonnes is nothing. It's 2 x 10^12 kg. That's approximately 36 billion times smaller than our Moon, at 7.342 x 10^22 kg.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What we see isn't all that might be there

      > A disturbance in the outer ring, or the formation of the outer ring, might explain the Late Heavy Bombardment.

      A disturbance in the outer ring is often signs of an imminent heavy bombardment....

      /coat

  9. Alistair
    Windows

    TNOs = puppeteer's hive colony

    Parked and watching closely, ready to depart the instant we figure them out.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what would be the minimum energy, and time, required to move (with the aid of a few gravitational slingshots) a tiny one into the goldilocks zone. Ideally one large filled with high concentrations of really nice matter.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Ideally one large filled with high concentrations of really nice matter."

      As long as that doesn't happen to be organic matter...

  11. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Coat

    OK ...

    "... 139 minor planets lurking at the edge of the Solar System ..."

    It seems that mice are also susceptible to panic buying. I wonder if Magrathea gives refunds?

  12. JustTheCoolest

    So, when someone asks how many planets are in this solar system, we reply 147 instead of 8 ?

    1. PapaD

      Apparently, no

      I'd guess not, you'd probably still say 8

      Why, well it seems that 'Planet' is a protected title within this solar system, and when Pluto was found to be using it incorrectly, the title was stripped and Pluto became a TNO.

      So, the other TNO's unfortunately do not have whatever qualifications or experience are necessary to be allowed to use the protected title of 'Planet'

      The big 8 have really got a corner on that part of the market.

  13. PeterCarr

    Is one of them named Rubert?

  14. Scott 53
    Headmaster

    TNOs don’t emit a lot of light

    I'd suggest that they don't emit any light at all. They do, however, reflect a bit.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: TNOs don’t emit a lot of light

      They might emit some light. Depends what chemical or geological - or heck, why not, even biological - processes may be going on with them.

  15. Mike Moyle

    All these genre comments...

    ...and no: "Here's how it is: The Earth got used up, so we moved out and terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths."?

    Disappointing.

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