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Space & Astronomy

Distant solar system object 'Farout' discovered

By T.K. Randall
December 18, 2018 · Comment icon 8 comments

An artist's impression of Farout. Image Credit: Roberto Molar Candanosa / Carnegie Institution for Science
Astronomers have identified the farthest known object in our solar system at a distance of 11 billion miles.
Known formally as 2018 VG18, this small icy world is situated 120 times further from the Sun than the Earth and takes somewhere in the region of 1,000 years to complete a single orbit.

It was discovered by Scott S Sheppard, David Tholen and Chad Trujillo - three astronomers who earlier this year had also discovered another minor planet known as The Goblin.

Identifying these distant objects is an important step towards finding the elusive Planet X - an as-yet undiscovered planet rumored to exist somewhere in the outer solar system.
"2018 VG18 is much more distant and slower moving than any other observed solar system object, so it will take a few years to fully determine its orbit," said Sheppard.

"But it was found in a similar location in the sky to the other known extreme solar system objects, suggesting it might have the same type of orbit that most of them do."

"The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small, distant solar system bodies was the catalyst for our original assertion that there is a distant, massive planet at several hundred astronomical units shepherding these smaller objects."

Farout is thought to be spherical, around 500km across and made up primarily of ice.

It is also likely that there are countless other such objects out there, just waiting to be found.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 6 years ago
Is it my patience?
Comment icon #2 Posted by acute 6 years ago
Don't get too excited. It's probably just a tiny thing close up.
Comment icon #3 Posted by third_eye 6 years ago
~ ~ So maybe they have to change the name to 'Groovy' ? ~
Comment icon #4 Posted by Orphalesion 6 years ago
I really hope they discover "Planet X" within my lifetime. Would be nice to have nine planets to the Solar System again and I'd be curious as to what they'd name it.
Comment icon #5 Posted by TomasaurusREKT 6 years ago
If that were the case it wouldn't be moving so slow though.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Essan 6 years ago
Rupert  https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Rupert
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
Some months ago, I read some scientists theorized that "Planet X"  or is it Planet IX" now, would have a slow orbit and take a thousand or more years to complete one "year".  I wonder if they knew something was there and just wanted to take the time to confirm it.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
To account for the observed clustering of trans-Neptunian objects the hypothetical planet 9 would have to be a large object wit a mass around ten times that of Earth. Tues new objectis most definitely not planet 9. As for knowing that there is something out there, astronomers know that there are objects much further out than this. They have long known of the existence of the Oort Cloud, the outer edge of which may be as far a s a light year from the sun. They know it exists as they can trace the orbits of long period comets back there, they just can't observe it directly yet.

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