Thursday, 17 January, 2019

VG18 Farout: Astronomers Discover Most Distant Solar System Object Ever | Astronomy

DISCOVERY Astronomers have found a new planet in our Solar System DISCOVERY Astronomers have found a new planet in our Solar System
Doris Mccormick | 18 December, 2018, 21:11

The most distant object ever observed in our Solar System has been discovered by an global team of astronomers.

In fact, the team of astronomers that first observed the object have nicknamed it "Farout", although it also carries the temporary and tedious official designation "2018 VG18".

"Farout" is about 18 billion kilometres away - which is about 120 astronomical units, roughly 120 times the distance between Earth and the sun. At that distance, it could take more than 1,000 years to orbit the sun.

Farout was first spotted using the Subaru 8-meter telescope in Hawaii in November, and then a follow-up measurement in early December by the Magellan telescope in Chile confirmed its existence. Its brightness suggests that it is about 500 km in diameter, likely making it spherical in shape and a dwarf planet.

"All that we now know about 2018 VG18 is its extreme distance from the sun, its approximate diameter, and its color", Tholen said. Farout is the small object in the centre, that moves between the two frames, whereas all of the other stationary objects are distant stars and galaxies. Farout is 120 AU from the sun. For even more comparison, the much-maligned dwarf planet Pluto (RIP its real planet status) is only 34 AU away from the sun. Sad! That color has been associated with objects that are rich in ice, and given its distance from the sun, that isn't hard to believe.

The second-most-distant observed solar system object is Eris, at about 96 AU. But every distant world we discover helps us confirm a result or rule something out, and someday soon we'll know whether or not Planet Nine is really lurking out there somewhere. But the researchers who found it are calling it "Farout".

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In fact, the existence of a ninth major planet at the fringes of the Solar System was first proposed by this same research team in 2014 when they discovered 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden, which is now near 84 AU.

Tholen made the discovery along with astronomers Scott S. Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University.

The orbits of several known outer solar system objects, shown skewed to the left of the above image, reveal the possible existence of a larger planet (perhaps a super-Earth) with an orbit on the other side of the solar system.

This image provided by the Carnegie Institution for Science shows an artist's concept of a dwarf planet that astronomers say is the farthest known object in our solar system, which they have nicknamed 'Farout'.

The existence of a ninth major planet at the fringes of the Solar System was first proposed by this same research team in 2014 when they discovered 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden, which is now near 84 AU. In October 2018, the same group of researchers found 2015 TG387 that was later nicknamed "The Goblin," since it was first seen near Halloween. The Goblin's orbit suggested that it may be influenced by an as yet undiscovered large planet near the edge of the solar system. Their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth. Where will Farout's orbit fit in?

Farout's orbit is yet to be determined.

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