Hunt For Planet X: Distant Solar System Object Discovered

Hunt For Planet X: Distant Solar System Object Discovered

Pictured is a predicted orbit of the new dwarf planet, nicknamed "the goblin" (left).

"It's on the small end of a dwarf planet", Sheppard says. But it wasn't publicly unveiled until now following further observations with ground telescopes. "These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", explained Scott Sheppard, a Carnegie Institute astronomer who is helping to lead the research.

But the finding is also a reminder that we have a long way to go, "I think that with all of the exciting exoplanet discoveries in recent decades, people often lose sight of the fact that the only planet in our own solar system we could reliably detect around another star like the Sun is Jupiter".

Goblin for the third dwarf planet discovered in the vicinity of the Solar system.

Becker says astronomers have only found a handful of objects in addition to The Goblin that point to the existence of Planet Nine, so there is considerable skepticism that it's really out there. One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun, or roughly 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

Next, it takes 40 thousand years to make a single revolution around the sun, and it never gets closer to the sun than 6 billion miles That's about twice as far as Pluto is from the sun. Pluto sits at an average of 40 AU from the sun.

2015 TG387 has two dwarf-planet companions in the low-bias class, Sheppard said: 2012 VP113, which he and his colleague Chadwick Trujillo (who's a co-author of the new paper as well) spotted in 2014 as part of the same, ongoing long-term survey; and the relatively bright Sedna (because the whole sky has been searched to its level of brightness).

The location in the sky where 2015 TG387 reaches perihelion is similar to 2012 VP113, Sedna, and most other known extremely distant trans-Neptunian objects, suggesting that something is pushing them into similar types of orbits.

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"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", co-discoverer Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University said. Because of its tiny size - just 300 kilometres across - it is far too faint to see for 99% of that time.

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

Sheppard puts the odds of Planet X's existence at around 85 percent.

The Goblin's orbit ranges far beyond the outer reaches of Pluto's home in the Kuiper Belt, as well as other Inner Oort Cloud Objects such as 2012 VP113 (also known as Biden) and Sedna. The AP is exclusively responsible for all content. It was first seen three years ago, on October 13, 2015, through the Subaru telescope at Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii.

"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", said the University of Hawaii's David Tholen, a member of the research team. "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our Solar System".

The findings were submitted for publication to the Astronomical Journal. So it may come as a surprise to some that there is a potential new contender for the ninth planet, based on the discovery of another newly discovered celestial body with an amusing nickname.

The team will begin a new run of observations in November, with the hope of finding more objects, possibly including the elusive Planet Nine.

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