Astronomers have discovered a distant body that is more than 100 times farther from the Sun than Earth. The provisional name is 2018 VG18, but they called the planet "Farout". Farout is the farthest body ever seen in our solar system, 120 astronomical units (AU) away.
The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced the discovery of Farout on Monday, December 17, 2018. This newly discovered object is the result of a search by an astronomer team for the elusive "Planet X" or "Planet 9," a ninth major planet that exists in the farthest reaches of our solar system, where its mass is the orbit of distant planets Would characterize Farout. The team did not determine the 201
A trio of astronomers made the discovery: Scott S. Sheppard of the Carnegie Science Institute, the University of Hawaii's David Tholen and Chad Trujillo of Northern Arizona University. Members of the same team also discovered "The Goblin" in October 2018. The Goblin is another distant world whose orbit is believed to be shaped by the elusive planet 9.
2018 VG18 is more distant and slower than other solar system objects observed, so it will take several years to fully determine orbit. "- Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Science Institute.
2018 VG18 is far more distant and slower than any other observed object of the solar system. Therefore, it will take a few years for his orbit to be fully determined, "Sheppard said. "But it was found in a similar place in the sky as the other known extreme solar system objects, suggesting that it may have the same orbit type as most of them. The orbital similarities shown by many of the known small, distant solar system bodies were the catalyst for our original claim that there is a distant, massive planet at several hundred AUs, guarding these smaller objects.
Farout was discovered using the Magellan Telescope at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and with the 8-meter telescope of the Japanese Subaru on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The Subaru was the first to discover it on the night of November 10, 2018.
At the beginning of December the Magellan telescope discovered VG18 for the second time in 2018. The astronomers used Magellan for a week to confirm the planet's path across the sky and to maintain its basic physical properties such as brightness and color. Observations with the Magellan telescope confirmed the distance of 120 AU. They also suggest that the planet is approximately spherical and has a diameter of about 500 km. The new planet has a pink hue associated with ice-rich objects.
"All we currently know about 2018 VG18 is the extreme distance from the sun, the approximate diameter and color," added Tholen. "Because 2018 VG18 is so far away, it orbits very slowly, and it lasts probably more than 1,000 years to travel around the sun. "
Astronomers continue to expand into space in search of objects at the boundaries of our solar system. What was once considered a huge, cold emptiness is now known as the residence of several objects. And thanks to better telescopes, computers and research methods, astronomers are finding more and more bodies in the distance of our system.
"This discovery is truly an international research achievement with telescopes in Hawaii and Chile operated by Japan and a consortium of research institutes and universities in the United States," concluded Trujillo. "With new digital wide-field cameras in some of the world's largest telescopes, we are finally exploring the limits of our solar system, far beyond Pluto."
An astronomical unit is the distance from the earth to the sun. Pluto is the most famous dwarf planet of our solar system and lies about 34 AU from the sun. Nine years would take NASA's New Horizons probe to reach Pluto, and Farout is about 3.5 times farther away than Pluto, so a spaceship would take about 31 years to reach Farout's outer reaches of the solar system. In recent years, astronomers have discovered goblin, biden, sedna and eris in the region of about 80 AU to 96 AU.
The same team behind Farout's discovery also discovered the Goblin, and the 2012 Biden VP113, too. Their work points to the potential presence of a giant planet, perhaps up to ten times the size of Earth. Astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, in an article from 2016, provided evidence that the same invisible planet nicknamed Planet X and Planet 9 was supported. This undiscovered planet is called Superneptun. In their work, the two astronomers say that the orbits of these distant dwarf planets are so bundled that it can not be a coincidence. There has to be another big planet that leads them through space.
It will take a while for astronomers to determine Farout's orbit. But if it looks like it fits the others, this would be even more compelling evidence of the existence of the elusive planet 9.