Virgin – the largest and farthest Polish object in the Solar System

The International Astronomical Union has accepted the name proposed by Polish astronomers for the object discovered in 2010 far beyond the orbit of Pluto. The object, which until now bore the designations 2010 EK139, got the name of the Slavic goddess, protector of nature – Dziewanna.

Virgin was discovered as part of The Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) project. This is one of the world’s largest large-scale surveysóIn the sky conducted since 1992 by scientistsów of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw under the direction of prof. Andrew Udalski. In 2010, using a telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, astronomers spotted more than a dozen previously unknown objects at the edge of the solar systemóin, with whichóhe largest of which have diameters of several hundred kilometersów.

– Discovering such large bodies in the Solar System was extremely exciting – mentions Professor Udalski, head of the OGLE project. – As a rule, astronomers study inaccessible objects that are extremely far from us. Here we felt almost like Columbus discovering new lands, because surely in a few hundred years it will be easy to reach them – adds.

Amongód of them was Virgin, whichóra was initially classified, as 2010 EK139. Polish astronomers as discoverers of new objectsów, have the privilege of naming them. Of course, it has to pass through the sieve of the Minor Planet Center, operating at Harvard University under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union. For the names of the distant objectóin the extra-aneptunes are chosen b namesóCreatures from the mythology of the róof different nationsów.

– In 2010, after a press release about the discovery of this very interesting object, the matter of naming it generated a lot of interest, recalls prof. Udalski. However, it turned out that the name Perun, proposed in a poll by Gazeta Wyborcza, has already been used to name a much less impressive Solar System object, and Weles is too similar to the existing name of the asteroid.

Wybór fell on the occurring róSlavic mythologies a young goddess named Virgin, protector of wildlife, forestów and a forest, bringing spring and new life to the. Its symbol is the wild field mullein, whichóre used as torches during ceremonies associated with the goddess.

Virgil moving through theód stars

Wkrótce after the discovery of 2010 EK139, it turned out that this object had already been recorded several years earlier, but had escaped scientistsów. However, data from earlier observations have revealed more details of theółów about the object.

Virgin wanders in a highly elongated orbit. It circles the Sun once every 593 years. The closest it comes to the Sun is a distance of 33 astronomical units (an astronomical unit is the distance Earth – Sun, 150 million km), maximally distant – at a distance of more than three times. The object is most likely at least partially covered by ice. They have also determined the size of Virgo, whichóre are about 470 kilometersów.

Virgo is the largest Polish object in the Solar System falling into the list of the forty largest independent bodies of the system. Had this planet orbited wokóEarth instead of our Moon, its disk would be only seven times smaller in diameter.

Astronomers of the OGLE project in 25 years of activity have discovered and classified about one million periodic variable stars, almost half of which are pulsating stars. It is the largest collection in the history of all world astronomy.