Goblin, dwarf planet, discovered beyond Pluto

A look at the relative distance of 2015 TG387.                  Roberto Molar Candanosa  Scott Sheppard  Carnegie Institution for Science

A look at the relative distance of 2015 TG387. Roberto Molar Candanosa Scott Sheppard Carnegie Institution for Science

At the very edge of our solar system, scientists have discovered a new, extremely distant object billions of miles beyond Pluto.

It took nearly three more years of observations to nail down The Goblin's oddball orbit, which ranges between 65 and 2,300 AU from the sun over the course of a 40,000-year circuit. It's actually pretty lucky that astronomers were able to spot it as they say it would be too faint to see for 99 percent of its orbit. She is nearly 2.5 times farther from the Sun than Pluto. 2015 TG387 is one of the few known objects that never comes close enough to the Solar System's giant planets, like Neptune and Jupiter, to have significant gravitational interactions with them.

"I think we are nearing the 90 per cent likelihood of Planet X being real with this discovery", said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Well, maybe. This hypothetical "Planet Nine" was first proposed by a pair of astronomers in 2016 who were looking at the orbits of distant solar system bodies. Its current location is about 2½ times farther from the sun than from Pluto.

And lead author of the study Scott Sheppard believes there are thousands of these extremely distant objects with elongated orbits around the sun.

The tiny new planet, a roughly 200-mile wide rock officially named TG387, orbits roughly 65 times further away from the sun than Earth.

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The object is the third minor planet to have been found in the outer solar system, following the discoveries of Sedna and, recently, another object called 2012 VP113.

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", Sheppard said.

Nicknamed "Planet Nine", the idea first emerged in 2014 when Dr Scott Sheppard and Professor Chad Trujillo sought to explain a unusual cluster of six small objects in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects beyond Neptune.

The object, 2015 TG387, is likely a dwarf planet with a diameter of about 300 kilometers (186 miles), making it about as wide as MA is long.

"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", study co-author David Tholen of the University of Hawaii said.

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"Despite centuries of surveys, our understanding of the solar system remains incomplete", he said.

The object with the most distant orbit at perihelion, 2012 VP113, was also discovered by Sheppard and Trujillo, in 2014.

If Planet X is found, many new questions in the scientific world would arise, such as where did it all come from or if there any possible signs of life.

The newly-found object, called 2015 TG387, was announced by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center on October 1. A dwarf planet is a so-called TRANS-Neptunian objects are celestial bodies in the Solar system that orbit the Sun, and whose average distance from the Sun is greater than Neptune's. 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 E.T.as a kid), now you know that you were onto something all along.

Researchers have spotted another distant dwarf planet in the outer solar system, and like the others it gives scientists more confidence that Planet Nine really does exist.

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Researchers Chad Trujillo of the University of Arizona and David Thollen of the University of Hawaii made an official announcement through the International Astronomical Association's Center for Minor Planets and the relevant publication in Astronomical Journal of Astronomy.

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