Science

Scientists Find Dwarf Planet ‘The Goblin’ Lurking in the Outer Solar System

Scientists Find Dwarf Planet ‘The Goblin’ Lurking in the Outer Solar System

Among some astronomers, there is a growing suspicion that our solar system's distant reaches hide a large, ninth planet that we have not yet seen.

Science Magazine says that the discovery of the tiny dwarf planet was "a lucky one", as its elliptical orbit takes some 40,000 years to travel around the sun.

"This is something that is 600-times farther away from the sun than the Earth is from the sun, so it is billions and billions of miles out".

The object has an orbit that hints at an even-farther-out "Super-Earth" or larger "Planet X" that could be lurking out there.

The Goblin's orbit is very skewed, and so is Sedna's and Biden's. But if they're not being tugged on by the planets we know about, that leaves the door open for interactions with objects we haven't yet discovered, like Planet Nine.

Sheppard, who works at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., added: "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". Well, maybe. This hypothetical "Planet Nine" was first proposed by a pair of astronomers in 2016 who were looking at the orbits of distant solar system bodies.

"And then if you bring in some of the other extreme objects - several of them were found in our survey as well", Sheppard told Space.com.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg", Sheppard said in an interview.

That clue is 2015 TG387, a newfound object in the far outer solar system, way beyond Pluto.

A paper describing it has also been submitted to the Astronomical Journal.

The object with the most distant orbit at perihelion, 2012 VP113, was also discovered by Sheppard and Trujillo, in 2014.

A new discovery makes Planet Nine seem even more likely. This discovery is a step in the right direction for scientists' hunt for Planet X.

Sheppard puts the odds of Planet X's existence at around 85 percent. In other words, it takes around 40,000 Earth years for it to travel once around the Sun, University of Hawaii's David Tholen said, adding that "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".

The new dwarf planet's formal name, assigned by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, is 2015 TG387.

Scientific speculation asserts that a planet estimated to be roughly 10-times the size of Earth exists somewhere beyond Neptune, and it's this planet that's pushing all these much smaller planets and rock objects into orbit around our sun. Most of the simulations showed that not only was 2015 TG387's orbit stable for the age of the Solar System, but it was actually shepherded by Planet X's gravity, which keeps the smaller 2015 TG387 away from the massive planet.

"We think there are thousands of these, and majority are too distant to detect", Sheppard said. That would bring the number of true planets in our solar system back to nine, replacing Pluto which was demoted in 2006.

"These simulations do not prove that there's another massive planet in our solar system, but they are further evidence that something big could be out there", he said.

BECKER: An easier solution is the existence of Planet Nine because it naturally creates these objects in the solar system. Opening Goblin indirectly confirms that this region may be a big planet - it is under the gravitational influence of a large object that is not visible yet.