Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Scientists find a frozen, scrawny dwarf planet nicknamed the Goblin

Theresa Hayes | 04 October, 2018, 13:45

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. Its orbit is about 40,000 years long.

The discovery of 2012 VP113 led Sheppard and Trujillo to notice similarities of the orbits of several extremely distant solar system objects, and they proposed the presence of an unknown planet several times larger than Earth - sometimes called Planet X or Planet 9 - orbiting the Sun well beyond Pluto at hundreds of AUs.

Scientists said The Goblin's orbit - and the orbits of similar objects at the far reaches of the solar system - suggest they are being shepherded by the gravity of Planet X. That's a theorized, but as yet unseen, planet several times the size of Earth somewhere on the edge of the solar system.

Since that time, many new objects have been discovered at much greater distances than Pluto. And, its discovery could redefine the boundary of the Solar System.

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. TG387 only completes one trip around the Sun every 40,000 years, and at the furthest point of its journey it swings out to a distance of 2,300 Astronomical Units (AU).

For now, the discovery of 2015 TG387 is simply unbelievable in itself, as we search the night sky for the edge of our solar system and the incredible object which lie out in the deep dark cold of the solar system!

Meanwhile, Sheppard and the rest of his research team will begin a new search starting next month to locate other objects in the fringes of the solar system, including Planet Nine.

"We are only just now uncovering what the very outer solar system might look like and what might be out there", said Scott Sheppard of the research team.

"These so-called Inner Oort Cloud objects like 2015 TG387, 2012 VP113, and Sedna are isolated from most of the Solar System's known mass, which makes them immensely interesting", Sheppard explained.

They have classified it as an inner Oort Cloud object since it hovers within the shell of distant icy objects covering the Solar System. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them. TG387 is the only known object that revolves around the Sun and does not have any significant gravitational interactions with the gas giants Neptune and Jupiter, says the report. Most simulations showed that the Goblin's orbit would have been stable for the age of the Solar System. However, no direct evidence for it has been found so far.