Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

New extremely distant solar system object found during hunt for Planet X

New extremely distant solar system object found during hunt for Planet X

Konstantin Batygin, assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech, who has worked on theoretical simulations of the hypothetical Planet Nine, described the latest observations as a "great discovery indeed".

The dwarf planet is about 190 miles in diameter based on preliminary measurements.

The dwarf planet's official name is 2015 TG387, and it was discovered three years ago by a team of researchers using the Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", Sheppard said in a statement.

The Minor Planet Center, which is operated by the International Astronomical Union, announced the discovery on Tuesday.

The simulations showed why the most-distant objects in our Solar System have similar orbits that keep them from ever approaching the proposed planet too closely.

The researchers believe that the new object could lead them towards Planet X or Planet 9, a giant, hidden planet thought to be10 times more massive than Earth.

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SHEPPARD: There's only one thing we know immediately when we find an object, and we know its distance from the sun.

2015 TG387 loops around the sun on an extremely elliptical path, coming within about 65 astronomical units (AU) of the sun at its closest point (known as perihelion) and getting about 2,300 AU away at its most distant (aphelion).

Scientists discovered an extremely distant object billions of miles beyond Pluto. This has pointed astronomers to the existence of a ninth, super-Earth sized planet.

A mysterious tenth planet really may lie at the edge of the solar system, according to new research.

Scientists said the object, which has been named 2015 TG387 and nicknamed "The Goblin", which they said provides evidence for the existence of Planet X.

A look at the relative distance of 2015 TG387.

"For over 99 percent of TG387's orbit, it would be too faint for us to detect it", Sheppard says.

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"This is just the tip of the iceberg", Sheppard said in an interview.

Nicknamed "Planet Nine", the idea first emerged in 2014 when Dr Scott Sheppard and Professor Chad Trujillo sought to explain a odd cluster of six small objects in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects beyond Neptune.

"This new object has the largest orbit of all the extremely distant objects that stay well beyond Pluto". The AP is exclusively responsible for all content.

The object with the most distant orbit at perihelion, 2012 VP113, was also discovered by Sheppard and Trujillo, in 2014.

This isn't the first discovery this group of researchers has made.

"We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the solar system's fringes, but their distance makes finding them very hard", study co-author David Tholen of the University of Hawaii said. "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our solar system", Sheppard said. "We don't know exactly how big it is, but we think it's about 300 kilometers in size, which is about six or seven times smaller than Pluto". Opening Goblin indirectly confirms that this region may be a big planet - it is under the gravitational influence of a large object that is not visible yet.

The findings have been submitted to The Astronomical Journal. Sheppard says a large and unknown planet could be "shepherding" these dwarf planets, directing them like a cosmic border collie around the solar system's fringe.

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