Distant Object at Edge of Solar System Supports Planet X Theory

Carnegie Institution for Science

Carnegie Institution for Science

Its orbit is about 40,000 years long.

Astronomers discovered an extremely distant object with an orbit that supports the idea of a remote Planet Nine.

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", Sheppard said, emphasizing their importance in expanding and redefining our knowledge of the Solar System's evolution.

Since that time, many new objects have been discovered at much greater distances than Pluto.

Simply, the solar system is packed with so many small planets and the discoveries just keep on coming! It doesn't interact gravitationally with the other planets in our Solar System, but is bound to the Sun.

The discovery was made by Carnegie Institution for Sciences' Scott Sheppard, Northern Arizona University's Chad Trujillo and the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy's David Tholen.

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A round frozen world just 186 miles (300 kilometers) across, the Goblin was spotted by astronomers using the 8-meter Subaru telescope in 2015 around Halloween, thus its spooky name. They're in hot pursuit of them, as well as a potentially bigger-than-Earth planet known as Planet 9, or Planet X, believed by some scientists to be orbiting at a distance of hundreds of AU.

Astronomers have found a new dwarf planet way out beyond Pluto that never gets closer than 65 AUs to the Sun. "Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun". One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun, or roughly 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

"They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our Solar System", said Sheppard.

Believed to possibly exist in the distant region known as the Oort Cloud, astronomers think its existence could provide an answer for numerous unusual orbits observed in the solar system, including The Goblin.

The discovery gives further credence to the hypothesis that Planet X, which could be 10 times the size of Earth, could be influencing the orbits of objects like 2015 TG387 within the Kuiper Belt.

"What makes this result really interesting is that Planet X seems to affect 2015 TG387 the same way as all the other extremely distant Solar System objects". But if Pluto isn't Planet Nine, the hope is that The Goblin can help scientists discover what is. "For some 99 percent of its 40,000-year orbit, it would be too faint to see". It has an uncharacteristically elongated orbit as well, the inner planets in the Solar System have a more or less circular orbit. 2015 TG387 is one of the few known objects that never comes close enough to the solar system's giant planets, like Neptune and Jupiter, to have significant gravitational interactions with them. However, no direct evidence for it has been found so far.

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