Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units


The observable Solar System can be divided into three distinct regions: the rocky terrestrial planets including the asteroids at 0.39 to 4.2 astronomical units (au) from the Sun (where 1 au is the mean distance between Earth and the Sun), the gas giant planets at 5 to 30 au from the Sun, and the icy Kuiper belt objects at 30 to 50 au from the Sun. The 1,000-kilometre-diameter dwarf planet Sedna was discovered ten years ago and was unique in that its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is 76 au, far greater than that of any other Solar System body1. Formation models indicate that Sedna could be a link between the Kuiper belt objects and the hypothesized outer Oort cloud at around 10,000 au from the Sun2,3,4,5,6. Here we report the presence of a second Sedna-like object, 2012 VP113, whose perihelion is 80 au. The detection of 2012 VP113 confirms that Sedna is not an isolated object; instead, both bodies may be members of the inner Oort cloud, whose objects could outnumber all other dynamically stable populations in the Solar System.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Sedna and 2012 VP113 are clear dynamical outliers in the Solar System.
Figure 2: Results from the observational bias simulation.
Figure 3: The argument of perihelion for distant objects clusters about 0°.


  1. Brown, M. E., Trujillo, C. & Rabinowitz, D. Discovery of a candidate inner Oort cloud planetoid. Astrophys. J. 617, 645–649 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Morbidelli, A. & Levison, H. F. Scenarios for the origin of the orbits of the trans-Neptunian objects 2000 CR105 and 2003 VB12 (Sedna). Astron. J. 128, 2564–2576 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Kenyon, S. J. & Bromley, B. C. Stellar encounters as the origin of distant Solar System objects in highly eccentric orbits. Nature 432, 598–602 (2004)

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Melita, M. D., Larwood, J. D. & Williams, I. P. Sculpting the outer Edgeworth Kuiper belt: stellar encounter followed by planetary perturbations. Icarus 173, 559–573 (2005)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Gomes, R. S., Matese, J. J. & Lissauer, J. J. A distant planetary-mass solar companion may have produced distant detached objects. Icarus 184, 589–601 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Levison, H. F. & Morbidelli, A. Models of the collisional damping scenario for ice-giant planets and Kuiper belt formation. Icarus 189, 196–212 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Goldreich, P., Lithwick, Y. & Sari, R. Final stages of planet formation. Astrophys. J. 614, 497–507 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Batygin, K., Brown, M. E. & Betts, H. Instability-driven dynamical evolution model of a primordially five-planet outer Solar System. Astrophys. J. 744, L3 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Nesvorný, D. & Morbidelli, A. Statistical study of the early Solar System's instability with four, five, and six giant planets. Astron. J. 144, 117 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Gomes, R. S., Gallardo, T., Fernández, J. A. & Brunini, A. On the origin of the high-perihelion scattered disk: the role of the Kozai mechanism and mean motion resonances. Celestial Mech. Dyn. Astron. 91, 109–129 (2005)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Soares, J. S. & Gomes, R. S. Comparison of forming mechanisms for Sedna-type objects through an observational simulator. Astron. Astrophys. 553, A110 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Gladman, B. & Chan, C. Production of the extended scattered disk by rogue planets. Astrophys. J. 643, L135–L138 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Ida, S., Larwood, J. & Burkert, A. Evidence for early stellar encounters in the orbital distribution of Edgeworth-Kuiper belt objects. Astrophys. J. 528, 351–356 (2000)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Brasser, R. A two-stage formation process for the Oort comet cloud and its implications. Astron. Astrophys. 492, 251–255 (2008)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Brasser, R., Duncan, M. J., Levison, H. F., Schwamb, M. E. & Brown, M. E. Reassessing the formation of the inner Oort cloud in an embedded star cluster. Icarus 217, 1–19 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Dukes, D. & Krumholz, M. R. Was the Sun born in a massive cluster? Astrophys. J. 754, 56 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Pfalzner, S. Early evolution of the birth cluster of the solar system. Astron. Astrophys. 549, A82 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. Adams, F. C. The birth environment of the Solar System. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 48, 47–85 (2010)

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Kaib, N. A., Roškar, R. & Quinn, T. Sedna and the Oort cloud around a migrating Sun. Icarus 215, 491–507 (2011)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Levison, H. F., Duncan, M. J., Brasser, R. & Kaufmann, D. E. Capture of the Sun's Oort cloud from stars in its birth cluster. Science 329, 187–190 (2010)

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. Schwamb, M. E., Brown, M. E., Rabinowitz, D. L. & Ragozzine, D. Properties of the distant Kuiper belt: results from the Palomar Distant Solar System Survey. Astrophys. J. 720, 1691–1707 (2010)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Petit, J.-M. et al. The Canada-France Ecliptic Plane Survey—full data release: the orbital structure of the Kuiper belt. Astron. J. 142, 131 (2011)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. Schwamb, M. E., Brown, M. E. & Fraser, W. C. The small numbers of large Kuiper belt objects. Astron. J. 147, 2 (2014)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. Gladman, B. et al. Evidence for an extended scattered disk. Icarus 157, 269–279 (2002)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Gomes, R. S., Fernández, J. A., Gallardo, T. & Brunini, A. in The Solar System Beyond Neptune (eds Barucci, M. A., Boehnhardt, H., Cruikshank, D. P., Morbidelli, A. & Dotson, R. ). 259–273 (2008)

  26. Becker, A. C. et al. Exploring the outer Solar System with the ESSENCE Supernova Survey. Astrophys. J. 682, L53–L56 (2008)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. Chen, Y.-T. et al. Discovery of a new member of the inner Oort cloud from the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey. Astrophys. J. 775, L8 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. Kozai, Y. Secular perturbations of asteroids with high inclination and eccentricity. Astron. J. 67, 591 (1962)

    Article  MathSciNet  ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Brasser, R., Duncan, M. J. & Levison, H. F. Embedded star clusters and the formation of the Oort cloud. Icarus 184, 59–82 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  30. Sheppard, S. S. et al. A southern sky and galactic plane survey for bright Kuiper belt objects. Astron. J. 142, 98 (2011)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  31. Diehla, T. The Dark Energy Survey Camera (DECam). Phys. Proc. (Proc. 2nd Int. Conf. on Technology and Instrumentation in Particle Physics, TIPP 2011) 37, 1332–1340 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  32. Trujillo, C. A., Jewitt, D. C. & Luu, J. X. Properties of the trans-Neptunian belt: statistics from the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope survey. Astron. J. 122, 457–473 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  33. Bernstein, G. & Khushalani, B. Orbit fitting and uncertainties for Kuiper belt objects. Astron. J. 120, 3323–3332 (2000)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  34. Doressoundiram, A., Boehnhardt, H., Tegler, S. C. & Trujillo, C. in The Solar System Beyond Neptune (eds Barucci, M. A., Boehnhardt, H., Cruikshank, D. P., Morbidelli, A. & Dotson, R. ). 91–104 (2008)

  35. Sheppard, S. S. The colors of extreme outer Solar System objects. Astron. J. 139, 1394–1405 (2010)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  36. Stansberry, J. et al. in The Solar System Beyond Neptune (eds Barucci, M. A., Boehnhardt, H., Cruikshank, D. P., Morbidelli, A. & Dotson, R. ). 161–179 (2008)

  37. Gulbis, A. A. S. et al. Unbiased inclination distributions for objects in the Kuiper belt. Astron. J. 140, 350–369 (2010)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  38. Sheppard, S. S. & Trujillo, C. A. The size distribution of the Neptune Trojans and the missing intermediate-sized planetesimals. Astrophys. J. 723, L233–L237 (2010)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  39. Petit, J.-M., Kavelaars, J. J., Gladman, B. & Loredo, T. in The Solar System Beyond Neptune (eds Barucci, M. A., Boehnhardt, H., Cruikshank, D. P., Morbidelli, A. & Dotson, R. ). 71–87 (2008)

  40. Chambers, J. E. Mercury: a Software Package for Orbital Dynamics (Astrophysics Source Code Library, 2012)

    Google Scholar 

  41. Lykawka, P. S. & Mukai, T. An outer planet beyond Pluto and the origin of the trans-Neptunian belt architecture. Astron. J. 135, 1161–1200 (2008)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  42. Lykawka, P. S. & Ito, T. Terrestrial planet formation during the migration and resonance crossings of the giant planets. Astrophys. J. 773, 65 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) team for obtaining observations during DECam commissioning, D. Norman for scheduling the November 2012 DECam observations, and D. Norman, A. Kunder and K. Holhjem for queue observing in November. T. Abbott and F. Valdes were very helpful during our December 2012 DECam observations. This project used data obtained with DECam, which was constructed by the Dark Energy Survey collaborating institutions. Observations were in part obtained at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, under contract with the National Science Foundation. This paper includes data gathered with the 6.5-m Magellan telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. This research was funded by NASA Planetary Astronomy grant NNX12AG26G and has also been supported by the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., on behalf of the international Gemini partnership of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile and the USA.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



C.T. created the moving object detection program for image analysis, developed the discovery statistic simulations, and is the principal investigator of the NASA grant supporting the project. S.S. obtained the telescope time, planned and performed the observations, analysed the data (including the colour measurements) and estimated the inner Oort cloud object orbital evolution using the Mercury integrator.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chadwick A. Trujillo.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Histogram of ω for minor planets with q > 30 au.

This is similar to Fig. 3 but in histogram form. The bodies with a > 150 au are shown as a black line (multiplied by a factor of ten for clarity) and bodies with a < 150 au are shown as a dotted line. The two distributions differ according to Kuiper’s test with a significance of 99.9%.

Extended Data Figure 2 The ω cycling of 2012 VP113 in the current Solar System.

We note that over the course of 500 Myr, the argument of perihelion ω moves uniformly across all values. All inner Oort cloud Objects (Table 1) and other distant objects (Extended Data Table 2) are expected to exhibit this behaviour on differing timescales, so the observation that all are restricted to ω near 0° is inconsistent with the current dynamical environment in the Solar System. Because these are simulated plots, there are no error bars associated with data points.

Extended Data Figure 3 The libration of ω for 2012 VP113 with an assumed object five times the mass of Earth at 210 au.

2012 VP113 librates about ω = 0° for most of the duration of the Solar System. This behaviour could explain why the two inner Oort cloud Objects (Table 1) and all objects with semi-major axes greater than 150 au and perihelia greater than Neptune’s (Extended Data Table 2) have ω ≈ 0°. The choice of mass and orbit of the perturber is not unique. Many possible distant planetary bodies can produce the pictured Kozai resonance behaviour, but the currently known Solar System bodies cannot. These are simulated plots, so there are no error bars associated with data points.

Extended Data Table 1 Model parameters for the q′ = 5 inner Oort Cloud observational bias and population study
Extended Data Table 2 Orbital elements of extreme Solar System bodies
Extended Data Table 3 Colours of 2012 VP113

Related audio

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Trujillo, C., Sheppard, S. A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units. Nature 507, 471–474 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing