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Sedna, the eponymous and first known sednoid

A sednoid is a trans-Neptunian object with a perihelion greater than 50 AU and a semi-major axis greater than 150 AU.[1][2] Only two objects are known from this population, 90377 Sedna and 2012 VP113, both of which have perihelia greater than 75 AU,[3] but it is suspected that there are many more. These objects lie outside an apparently nearly empty gap in the Solar System starting at about 50 AU, and have no significant interaction with the planets. They are usually grouped with the detached objects. Some astronomers, such as Scott Sheppard,[4] consider the sednoids to be inner Oort cloud objects (OCOs), though the inner Oort cloud, or Hills cloud, was originally predicted to lie beyond 2,000 AU, several times as far as the aphelia of the two known sednoids.

Unexplained orbits[edit]

The sednoids' orbits cannot be explained by perturbations from the giant planets,[5] nor by interaction with the galactic tides.[1] If they formed in their current locations, their orbits must originally have been circular; otherwise accretion (the coalescence of smaller bodies into larger ones) would not have been possible because the large relative velocities between planetesimals would have been too disruptive.[6] Their present elliptical orbits can be explained by several hypotheses:

  1. These objects could have had their orbits and perihelion distances "lifted" by the passage of a nearby star when the Sun was still embedded in its birth star cluster.[7]
  2. Their orbits could have been disrupted by an as-yet-unknown planet-sized body beyond the Kuiper belt.[8][9]
  3. They could have been captured from around passing stars, most likely in the Sun's birth cluster.[5][10]

Known members[edit]

Number Name Diameter
Perihelion (AU) Semimajor axis (AU) Aphelion (AU) Argument of perihelion (°) Year discovered
90377 Sedna 995 ± 80 76.13 ± 0.01 532.3 ± 1.7 ≈ 937 311.19 ± 0.02 2003
2012 VP113 ≈ 500 80.5 ± 0.6 263 ± 7 446 ± 13 293.8 ± 2.4 2012

The two sednoids, like all of the more extreme detached objects (objects with semi-major axes > 150 AU and perihelia > 30 AU; the orbit of Neptune), have a similar orientation (argument of perihelion) of ≈ 0° (338°±38°). This is not due to an observational bias and is unexpected, because interaction with the giant planets should have randomized their arguments of perihelion (ω),[1] with precession periods between 40 Myr and 650 Myr and 1.5 Gyr for Sedna.[10] This suggests that one[1] or more[11] undiscovered massive perturbers may exist in the outer Solar System. A super-Earth at 250 AU would cause these objects to librate around ω = ±60° for billions of years. There are multiple possible configurations and a low-albedo super-Earth at that distance would have an apparent magnitude below the current all-sky-survey detection limits. This hypothetical super-Earth has been dubbed Telisto. Larger, more-distant perturbers would also be too faint to be detected.[1]

Twelve known objects have a semi-major axis > 150 AU, a perihelion beyond Neptune, and an argument of perihelion of 340°±55°.[12]

Theoretical population[edit]

Each of the proposed mechanisms for Sedna's extreme orbit would leave a distinct mark on the structure and dynamics of any wider population. If a trans-Neptunian planet was responsible, all such objects would share roughly the same perihelion (≈80 AU). If Sedna were captured from another planetary system that rotated in the same direction as the Solar System, then all of its population would have orbits on relatively low inclinations and have semi-major axes ranging from 100–500 AU. If it rotated in the opposite direction, then two populations would form, one with low and one with high inclinations. The perturbations from passing stars would produce a wide variety of perihelia and inclinations, each dependent on the number and angle of such encounters.[13]

Acquiring a larger sample of such objects would therefore help in determining which scenario is most likely.[14] "I call Sedna a fossil record of the earliest Solar System", said Brown in 2006. "Eventually, when other fossil records are found, Sedna will help tell us how the Sun formed and the number of stars that were close to the Sun when it formed."[15] A 2007–2008 survey by Brown, Rabinowitz and Megan Schwamb attempted to locate another member of Sedna's hypothetical population. Although the survey was sensitive to movement out to 1,000 AU and discovered the likely dwarf planet 2007 OR10, it detected no new sednoids.[14] Subsequent simulations incorporating the new data suggested about 40 Sedna-sized objects probably exist in this region, with the brightest being about Eris's magnitude (−1.0).[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e Trujillo, C. A.; Sheppard, S. S. (2014). "A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units" (PDF). Nature 507 (7493): 471–474. doi:10.1038/nature13156. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-12-16. 
  2. ^ Sheppard, Scott S.. "Known Extreme Outer Solar System Objects". Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  3. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Search Engine: a > 150 (AU) and q > 50 (AU) and data-arc span > 365 (d)". JPL Solar System Dynamics. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  4. ^ Sheppard, Scott S.. "Beyond the Edge of the Solar System: The Inner Oort Cloud Population". Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  5. ^ a b Michael E. Brown; Chadwick Trujillo; David Rabinowitz (2004). "Discovery Of A Candidate Inner Oort Cloud Planetoid" (PDF). Astrophysical Journal 617 (1): 645–649. arXiv:astro-ph/0404456. Bibcode:2004ApJ...617..645B. doi:10.1086/422095. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  6. ^ Scott S. Sheppard; D. Jewitt (2005). "Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System" (PDF). Frank N. Bash Symposium. University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  7. ^ Alessandro Morbidelli; Harold Levison (2004). "Scenarios for the Origin of the Orbits of the Trans-Neptunian Objects 2000 CR105 and 2003 VB12 (Sedna)". Astronomical Journal 128 (5): 2564–2576. arXiv:astro-ph/0403358. Bibcode:2004AJ....128.2564M. doi:10.1086/424617. 
  8. ^ Rodney S. Gomes; John J. Matese; Jack J. Lissauer (2006). "A distant planetary-mass solar companion may have produced distant detached objects". Icarus 184 (2): 589–601. Bibcode:2006Icar..184..589G. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2006.05.026. 
  9. ^ Lykawka, P. S. & Mukai, T. (2008). An outer planet beyond Pluto and the origin of the trans-Neptunian belt, the astronomical journal 135:1161–1200
  10. ^ a b Jílková, Lucie; Portegies Zwart, Simon; Pijloo, Tjibaria; Hammer, Michael (2015). "How Sedna and family were captured in a close encounter with a solar sibling". arXiv preprint. arXiv:1506.03105. 
  11. ^ de la Fuente Marcos, C.; de la Fuente Marcos, R. (1 September 2014). "Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signalling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters 443 (1): L59–L63. arXiv:1406.0715. Bibcode:2014MNRAS.443L..59D. doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slu084. 
  12. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Search Engine: a > 150 (AU) and q > 30 (AU) and data-arc span > 365 (d)". JPL Solar System Dynamics. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  13. ^ Megan Schwamb (2007). "Searching for Sedna's Sisters: Exploring the inner Oort cloud" (PDF). Cal Tech. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 
  14. ^ a b c Schwamb, Megan E.; Brown, Michael E.; Rabinowitz, David L. (2009). "A Search for Distant Solar System Bodies in the Region of Sedna". The Astrophysical Journal Letters 694 (1): L45–L48. arXiv:0901.4173. Bibcode:2009ApJ...694L..45S. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/694/1/L45. 
  15. ^ Cal Fussman (2006). "The Man Who Finds Planets". Discover. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 

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