Astronomers have found three dwarf planets orbiting the Sun near Pluto, a discovery that proved that Pluto-like bodies existed in a region of space termed as the Kuiper Belt.
Kuiper Belt is a region beyond Neptune hosting icy bodies, and is about 30 and 50 astronomical units (AU) away from the Sun. One Astronomical Unit measured as distance from the Earth to the sun, which is about 93 million miles.
Scientists say that with these findings, it can be concluded that "Pluto and Eris are the kings of the Kuiper Belt area," a space.com report said.
Like Pluto, these newly discovered bodies are likely to have enough gravitational force to assume the spherical shape. "Three of the discoveries would be in the dwarf planet regime ... The others were much smaller, and they're probably just irregular chunks of ice or rock," the study's lead author Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Washington said.
Three of the new-found icy bodies are more than 250 miles wide, but they fall far short of Pluto's size, which is roughly about 1,450 miles. But they all form what are called the dwarf planets, which are large enough to get a spherical shape but too small to have cleared their neighborhoods of other orbiting bodies.
Pluto was put in the dwarf category in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) when it became know that icy rocks, or other smaller dwarf bodies were moving about in the solar system, near Pluto.
The new survey of the Kuiper Belt was conducted using the 1.3-meter Warsaw Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The results were published in the Astronomical Journal.