Newly discovered far-flung object supports Planet X existence
Newly discovered far-flung object supports Planet X existence
"Goblin" dwarf planet found lurking at the extreme fringes of the solar system
06 October, 2018, 01:44
Goblin has an elliptical orbit that brings it closer to the Sun but also flings it further away compared to other inner Oort Cloud objects like 2012 VP113 and Sedna.
"These objects are on elongated orbits, and we can only detect them when they are closest to the Sun", Scott Sheppard, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, told the Associated Press in an email.
The full details of the discovery have been submitted to The Astronomical Journal for publication.
2015 TG387 was discovered about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun, a measurement defined as the distance between the Earth and Sun.
The doomsday collision theory is the stuff of science fiction, but NASA acknowledges the possibility that a ninth planet is orbiting the Sun hundreds of AU away.
Prior to finding the Goblin, Sheppard and Trujillo had already found 2012 VP113 - the most-distant object to date. She is nearly 2.5 times farther from the Sun than Pluto.
According to its discoverers, 2015 TG387 has an elongated orbit that never comes close to the Sun. They consider it an inner Oort Cloud Object.
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"This new object has the largest orbit of all the extremely distant objects that stay well beyond Pluto", Sheppard said. Astronomers believe that the Goblin was nowhere near large planets of the Solar system - Jupiter and Neptune - so that they have had on its orbit some noticeable gravitational influence.
"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", added Tholen.
In Sheppard's case, an interesting object is one that never gets close to the sun, and has a non-circular orbit.
No doubt the observation and naming of The Goblin-which is about 186 miles across, takes 40,000 years to orbit the sun-will set off new debates around planetary categorization. Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science, explains that "most of it is found, and the more we understand the frontier of the solar system and the influence of a possible planet that, we think, shapes their orbit". Its large orbit and slow movement allowed Sheppard and his team to study it for several years so they could properly understand it.
Tholen first observed 2015 TG387 in October of 2015 at the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope on Maunakea.
As far as nicknames go, the icy mini-planet officially known as 2015 TG387 could have done worse-it could have been ended up with the moniker STEVE (which is used for an Arctic skyglow), or Tiramisu (one of the suggested names for the distant body now known as Ultima Thule).
2015 TG387 is likely on the small end of being a dwarf planet, since it has a diameter of roughly 300 kilometers.
The location of the Goblin's perihelion is similar to the perihelion's of Sedna, 2012 VP113, and other extremely distant Trans-Neptunal Objects.
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