Tech UPTechnologyDiscovered the farthest planet in the Solar System

Discovered the farthest planet in the Solar System

At more than a hundred times the distance from the Earth to the Sun is the farthest object ever observed in the Solar System. The finding was announced on December 17 by the International Astronomical Union, which has given this celestial body the provisional name of 2018 VG18, alias ‘Farout’.

The exact measurements of its remoteness, as published by its discoverers (Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard, David Tholen of the University of Hawaii, and Chad Trujillo of the University of Northern Arizona) is 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU It is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Before ‘Farout’, the second farthest object observed in the Solar System is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently 34 AU away, making 2018 VG18 more than three and a half times farther than the most famous dwarf planet in the Solar System.

Scaled solar system distances show the newly discovered 2018 VG18, dubbed ‘Farout’, compared to other known objects in the solar system. / Credit: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott S. Sheppard, Carnegie Institute for Science.

What is Farout like?

Its brightness suggests that it is approximately 500 kilometers in diameter , making it a dwarf planet. In addition, it has a pinkish hue, a color generally associated with ice-rich objects.

“All we currently know about Farout is its distance from the Sun, its approximate diameter and its color,” the researchers describe. However, given its remoteness, it still takes more observations and years of study to determine its exact orbit. But this celestial body has been located in a similar location in the sky to the other extreme objects in the Solar System, suggesting that it could have the same type of orbit as most of them. “Because it is so distant, it orbits very slowly, and it will probably take more than 1,000 years to make the trip around the Sun ” , estimate the astronomers.

Several nights of observation are required to accurately determine the distance of an object. Farout was seen for the second time in early December at the Magellan telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Over the following week, the scientists monitored Farout with the telescope to confirm its path across the sky and obtain its basic physical properties, such as brightness and color.

In Search of Planet X

The planet Farout has been discovered as part of the continuous search for extremely distant objects in the Solar System, including the supposed Planet X, also called Planet 9.

In fact, in October 2018, the same group of researchers announced the discovery of another distant Solar System object, called 2015 TG387 and nicknamed “The Goblin,” because it was first seen around Halloween. The Goblin was discovered at approximately 80 AU and has an orbit that is consistent with the Planet X hypothesis. This ensures that a distant body the size of a Super Earth exists in the most distant fringes of the Solar System.

The team that Farout has discovered is the same one that hypothesized in 2014 of the existence of a ninth major planet on the fringes of the Solar System. That same year they discovered the existence of VP113 2012, nicknamed ‘Biden’, which is 84 AU away.

But both The Goblin and Biden never get close enough to the giant planets of the Solar System, such as Neptune and Jupiter, to have significant gravitational interactions with them. This means that these extremely distant objects can be evidence of what is happening in the outer reaches of the Solar System. As the team doesn’t know Farout’s orbit very well yet, they haven’t been able to determine if it shows signs of being influenced by Planet X.

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