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Astronomers Discover a Distant Solar System Object - 2015 TG387

04 October 2018

The dwarf planet was discovered in 2015, but wasn't unveiled until this week. For context, Pluto's distance is around 34 AU, so 2015 TG387 is about two-and-a-half times further away from the sun than Pluto is right now.

The Goblin got its name because it was discovered at Halloween. The Goblin's orbit is consistent with the much-talked-about but yet-to-be-proven Planet 9.

A new object hailed as 2015 TG387 nicknamed Goblin was confirmed by the International Astronomical Union. The Goblin has a highly-elongated orbit that takes it as far as 2300 AUs from the Sun.

Yet over the past decade, scientists have argued Pluto should be reclassified as the ninth planet, especially as other outer orbit dwarf planets such as Sedna and 2012 VP113 have been discovered since the turn of the century. The team's software detected the unusual moving object, which led Tholen to more carefully measure the object's position and determine where to point other telescopes for follow-up observations.

The newly found object, called 2015 TG387, was discovered about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. "The more of them we can find, the better we can understand the outer solar system and the possible planet that we think is shaping their orbits-a discovery that would redefine our knowledge of the solar system's evolution".

The discovery of a tiny planet dubbed "The Goblin" on the fringes of the solar system could indicate the presence of the fabled Planet Nine.

For now, the discovery of 2015 TG387 is simply unbelievable in itself, as we search the night sky for the edge of our solar system and the incredible object which lie out in the deep dark cold of the solar system!

"These distant objects are like breadcrumbs leading us to Planet X", said Carnegie Institution for Sciences' Scott Sheppard.

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.

Sheppard and one of his colleagues on this study, David Tholen from the University of Hawaii, were also behind the discovery of 2012 VP113, another IOCO.

What researchers are excited about, is that the behaviour of its orbit suggests that there may be another giant planet nearby.

"We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the Solar System's fringes".

The object would be around 15,000 AU from the earth and orbit the Sun with a period of some 1.8 million years.

It's the third dwarf planet recently found to be orbiting on the cold borders of our solar system. For some 99 percent of their orbits, they are too distant and thus too faint for us to observe them.

Astronomers Discover a Distant Solar System Object - 2015 TG387