Planet X: Search for Planet Nine Turns Up Dwarf Planet

Jan Cross
October 5, 2018

In the most distant part of our solar system, past the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, lurks an undiscovered planet. Pluto, meanwhile, is around 34 times as far from the Sun as Earth, so The Goblin really, really gets out there.

At the other, most distant end of its elliptical, 40,000-year orbit, TG387 is almost 70 times farther from the sun than Pluto - more than 200 billion miles. Led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science, the astronomers were scanning broad swathes of the sky in search of faint glimmers that might betray new objects in the solar system.

There are officially eight planets in our Solar System - yes, I know, Pluto was totally a planet, but not anymore - but that doesn't mean there isn't something lurking on the edge of our system that hasn't yet been spotted.

In October 2017, NASA released a statement saying that Planet Nine may be 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune is, going so far as to say "it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one".

"Objects such as 2015 TG387 allow us to probe not only the makeup of the solar system itself but also the gravitational mechanisms that sculpt it", said Konstantin Batygin, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology who was not involved with the observation.

An artist's conception of a distant Solar System Planet X, which could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant outer Solar System objects like 2015 TG387 discovered by a.

Astronomers have discovered another planet in the Solar system.

"It took us three years to figure out that it has an interesting orbit", Sheppard said.

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", he continued.

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2015 TG387 is likely on the small end of being a dwarf planet since it has a diameter near 300 kilometers.

Sheppard said he predicts thousands of objects the same size as 2015 TG387 dot the rim of our solar system.

"Despite centuries of surveys, our understanding of the solar system remains incomplete", he said. Just two, 2012 VP113 and 90377 Sedna have a perihelion (the point of an object's orbit closest to the sun) farther out than The Goblin, and its orbit actually takes it far beyond them at its most distant point.

The new find, which has been nicknamed "The Goblin", was introduced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.

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

The new object is on a very elongated orbit and never comes closer to the Sun, a point called perihelion, than about 65 AU. If you're the kind of person who has always stood by the opinion that there's way more out there in space than we know about (ever since you saw a kid), now you know that you were onto something all along.

Astronomers were able to detect in the process of seeking a hypothetical massive "Ninth planet", which is probably far beyond Pluto in the mysterious region known as the Oort Cloud, - UNIAN reports citing The Guardian.

"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". 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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