Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Hunt for Planet X uncovers new 'object'

Hunt for Planet X uncovers new 'object'

Then it heads off to the outermost fringes of the solar system, to nearly 60 times further out than Pluto, taking an astounding 40,000 years to loop once around the sun.

And its unusual orbit supports the theory there is a huge, rocky world ten times bigger than Earth on the outskirts of our star system. "This one is 200 miles in diameter, but the real key here is that it's thought to be evidence that there's a much larger object that exists much further out in our solar system", said Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute.

First proposed by a group at CalTech in the USA, this alien world was theorised to explain the distorted paths seen in distant icy bodies. "This hypothetical Neptune-sized planet orbits our sun in a highly elongated orbit far beyond Pluto", NASA reports.

Researchers say a body of this size and mass would explain the clustered paths of a number of icy minor planets beyond Neptune.

The vast distances the object must travel to complete an orbit means that it only travels around the Sun once every 40,000 years. This makes such objects hard to find, but modern telescopes have begun to pick them out against the blackness of space.

Sheppard is not the only astronomer to propose that a putative planet, called Planet Nine or Planet X, lurks at the dark edge of the solar system.

Their orbits all tilted in the same way, an arrangement that is almost impossible to generate without the help of some external force. The outer solar system is still a largely unknown place, and astronomers will likely be discovering new objects there for years to come.

But going back to the orbit: The Goblin's is similar in key ways to those of some other extremely distant bodies - particularly in an element called "longitude of perihelion". Instead, astronomers refer to its orbit in astronomical units, or AU, where 1 AU is the distance between the sun and Earth. Pluto, by comparison, is approximately between 30 and 50 AU.

A research team led by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution of Science first spotted The Goblin just before Halloween in 2015.

In October 2017, Caltech planetary astrophysicist Konstantin Batygin, who worked with Brown, said that there are "five different lines of observational evidence" that point to the existence of Planet X.

It never comes closer to the Sun, a point called perihelion, than about 65 AU.

Scientists discovered an extremely distant object billions of miles beyond Pluto.

"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", Tholen said. "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our solar system". "Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the Sun". "These simulations do not prove that there's another massive planet in our solar system, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there", he said. Most of the simulations showed that not only was 2015 TG387's orbit stable for the age of the Solar System, but it was actually shepherded by Planet X's gravity, which keeps the smaller 2015 TG387 away from the massive planet.

An extremely distant dwarf planet, named The Goblin, has been discovered in observations that are redefining the outer reaches of the solar system.

The discovery was made using the Japanese Subaru 8-metre telescope located on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

It took the team three additional years to nail down The Goblin's orbit, which they did with the aid of observations by the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona. The dwarf planet is officially 2015 TG387, but has been given the nickname "the Goblin".

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