Distant Object at Edge of Solar System Supports Planet X Theory

Pablo Tucker
October 6, 2018

Pluto, the erstwhile ninth planet in our solar system, was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet in 2006. Planet X as it became known, is thought to be a sub-Neptune sized planet but with an orbit 20 times as large Neptune.

As all three objects are located relatively close to one another, the suggestion is that all of them are being influenced by an enormous object, possibly the fabled Planet Nine.

Full details about The Goblin have been submitted to The Astronomical Journal.

The Goblin - officially named 2015 TG387, which isn't quite as catchy - was discovered roughly 80 astronomical units from the sun. For comparison, Pluto is around 34 AU away and like Pluto, the Goblin will not see much in the way of Sunlight as the closest it gets to the Sun is around 65 AU. It is moving on a very elongated orbit.

How far does the Sun's gravity reach out into the solar system and what is the limit of that in the known Kuiper Belt?

"We think there could be thousands of small bodies like 2015 TG387 out on the Solar System's fringes". It was said on Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.

Sheppard and Trujillo, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University, previously discovered 2012 VP113, which was revealed in 2014. However, instead of Planet X, scientists have now discovered a new dwarf planet they have dubbed "the Goblin".

"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", Tholen said.

"These objects are on elongated orbits, and we can only detect them when they are closest to the Sun".

The object is on the small end of being a dwarf planet, with a 40,000-year orbit - meaning it takes that long to go around the sun.

Having noticed similarities in other orbits beyond our Solar System, the pair proposed the presence of an unknown planet several times larger than Earth-known as Planet X or Planet Nine-orbiting the Sun at hundreds of AUs. "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", Sheppard added.

Tholen first observed 2015 TG387 in October of 2015 at the Japanese Subaru 8-meter telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii. He and his colleagues first spotted the object in 2015. While the huge planets in your system manifest an intense gravitational pool, Goblin seems unfazed by them, which leads scientists to believe that a greater force may be affecting it.

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.

However, that's the closest it will ever get. That's where Planet X comes into the picture.

"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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