|Discovery date 6 November 2004|
Observation arc 5821 days (15.94 yr)
Absolute magnitude 6.4
Apparent magnitude 23.3
|MPC designation (474640) 2004 VN112|
Discovered 6 November 2004
Spectral type S-type asteroid
|Minor planet category TNO · E-SDO
Aphelion 586 AU (87.7 Tm) (Q) 607 AU (barycentric)
Perihelion 47.321 AU (7.0791 Tm) (q)
Discovered by Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
Discovery site Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
Similar 2007 TG422, Solar System, 2008 ST291
(474640) 2004 VN112, provisional designation 2004 VN112, is a detached object (because its perihelion is greater than 40 AU). It never gets closer than 47 AU from the Sun (near the outer edge of the main Kuiper belt) and averages more than 300 AU from the Sun. Its large eccentricity strongly suggests that it was gravitationally scattered onto its current orbit. Because it is, like all detached objects, outside of the current gravitational influence of Neptune, how it came to have this orbit cannot yet be explained.
Discovery, orbit and physical properties
(474640) 2004 VN112 was discovered by the ESSENCE supernova survey on November 6, 2004 observing with the 4 m Blanco Telescope from Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Its orbit is characterized by high eccentricity (0.850), moderate inclination (25.58º) and a semi-major axis of 316 AU. Upon discovery, it was classified as a trans-Neptunian object. Its orbit is well determined; as of January 11, 2017 its orbital solution is based on 34 observations spanning a data-arc of 5821 days. (474640) 2004 VN112 has an absolute magnitude of 6.5 which gives a characteristic diameter of 130 to 300 km for an assumed albedo in the range 0.25–0.05.
Michael Brown's website lists it as a possible dwarf planet with a diameter of 314 kilometres (195 mi) based on an assumed albedo of 0.04. The albedo is expected to be low because the object has a blue (neutral) color. However, if the albedo is higher, the object could easily be half that size.
2004 VN112 was observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in November 2008 and found not to have any detectable companions. It reached perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) in 2009 and is currently 47.7 AU from the Sun. It will be in the constellation of Cetus until 2019. It comes to opposition at the start of November.
2004 VN112's orbit is similar to that of 2013 RF98, indicating that they may have both been thrown onto the orbit by the same body, or that they may have been the same object (single or binary) at one point.
2004 VN112's visible spectrum is very different from that of 90377 Sedna. The value of its spectral slope suggests that the surface of this object can have pure methane ices (like in the case of Pluto) and highly processed carbons, including some amorphous silicates. Its spectral slope is similar to that of 2013 RF98.
Relevance to the Planet Nine Hypothesis
This minor planet is one of a number of objects discovered in the Solar System to have a semi-major axis > 150 AU, a perihelion beyond Neptune, and an argument of perihelion of 340 ± 55°. Of these, only eight, including 2004 VN112, have perihelia beyond Neptune's current influence.