While seeking Planet X, astronomers find a distant solar system object

Extremely distant solar system object discovered

"The Goblin" moniker was bestowed on the planet since it was Halloween season in October at the time, and since its first initials were TG, according to the Carnegie Institution. It was discovered by a group of researchers working at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Northern Arizona University, University of Hawaii and the University of Oklahoma.

The 300 km-wide "Goblin" was discovered roughly 80 astronomical units (AU) -the average distance between the Earth and the Sun- from our Sun. During its aphelion or furthest distance from the Sun during its revolution, it can be as far away as 2,300 AU, notes the release.

At its closest, the Goblin is 65 times farther from the sun than Earth, or 65 AU.

"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", said David Tholen from University of Hawaii. "Currently we would only detect 2015 TG387 when it is near its closest approach to the sun". What's special about it is that its 40,000-year orbit takes it way, way, way farther-in fact, this is about as close as it's ever going to get to us.

The object was first spotted by Tholen at the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope in Hawaii.

Astronomers have found - way beyond the orbit of Pluto - an intriguing distant object orbiting the sun.

The newly found object, called 2015 TG387, was announced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. Its orbit has a larger semi-major axis than both 2012 VP11 and Sedna, so it travels much farther from the Sun, out to 2300 AU.

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Believed to possibly exist in the distant region known as the Oort Cloud, astronomers think its existence could provide an answer for numerous odd orbits observed in the solar system, including The Goblin. "They can be used as probes to understand what is happening at the edge of our Solar System".

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

Only a few known objects in our solar system have comparable orbits, such as dwarf planets 2012 VP113 (nickname: Biden) and Sedna.

Diagram of the comparing the orbits of some of the inner Oort Cloud objects discovered so far. Officially designated 2015 TG387, the small and spherical object is probably a ball of ice. Sheppard says a large and unknown planet could be "shepherding" these dwarf planets, directing them like a cosmic border collie around the solar system's fringe. Many exo-systems have planets in this mass range, but so far, our Solar System seems to lacking one.

The team speculate that there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the fringes of the Solar System, but their distance make them hard to find.

This is similar to why Pluto never gets too close to the gas giant Neptune, although their orbits actually cross.

"This clustering can only be maintained if the solar system hosts an additional, yet unseen, super-Earth type planet", Batygin said.

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